Monday, August 10, 2015


     National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City. 8/10/2015:   It's been a hundred years since James Earle Fraser's epic statue went on display at the Panama Pacific International Exposition in 1915.  

   Fraser said he created the statue to depict the suffering of Indians removed from their homelands and pushed toward the Pacific.  He titled it simply: End of the Trail.   According to reports at the time, it didn't cause much excitement at the exposition.  Perhaps the subject was still too tender.

 (Left:  James Earle Fraser.  1876-1953.)

  Then, the statue disappeared from general public view.  Historians and officials had no idea what had happened to it.  Even Fraser was at a loss.

   Dean Krakel, managing director of the Cowboy museum, set out to locate it..finally getting a lead from a friend of the Fraser family.

   It turns out the small city of Visalia, California had bought it when the exposition closed and used it to decorate a public park, where it languished from almost 50 years.  Made of plaster on a wood and wire frame, it was painted repeatedly to preserve its surface.

  Krakel bought it in 1968 and and his team went to get it.  To put it on a truck, they had to cut the rider from the horse and bring it home in two pieces.  But bring it home, they did and restoration began.   

   Today, End of the Trail is the first object you see when you enter the museum's grand foyer.  The rider and horse stand exhausted but undefeated.  If you know your history, you'll understand.  

   You can see it, along with a show about its loss and recovery as the museum marks the statue's centennial.

   We stopped there today on the last leg of our journey home from a wonderful trip through parts of the west.  We're glad we did.  

   Near the statue was this, from Marion Manville Pope:

   "The trail is lost, the path is hid and winds that blew from out the ages sweep me on to that chill borderline where Time's spent sands engulf lost peoples and lost trails."



    Visit the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City,'re invited.


JS.  8/10/2015


Saturday, August 8, 2015


On Edge..Literally

Tucumcari, NM.  8/8/2015:  We wrapped up our "Grand Tour" by spending three days with our friends, John and Marsha Taylor, at their home in Show Low, Arizona.  The dateline tells you we're now on our way home, so this report will pull together the last bits and pieces.

   Show Low sits atop the Mogollon Rim, an escarpment that forms the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau, stretching miles across the state.  The edge of the rim is a sheer drop.  The view beyond it is of endless forests bordered by faraway mountains.

    Color in waves.

   There is a trail along the rim.  If you're a hiker or a biker, you'll get what you came for.

   If you narrow your sights, the local flora may surprise you.  There is bright color everywhere..for instance, this red wildflower that was clinging to the edge of the cliff.  It was rooted in soil lodged between two boulders.  You have to cheer a spirit like that.

 I liked this fire tower picture, which tells a story of its own.

  Wildfire is always a worry.  The region has had more than its share.  Smokey the Bear is not a joke. If you go there, expect to be expected to go by the rules.  You know what they are.


   Now about Show Low:  It's a neat town, about 7000 feet above sea level.  There are permanent residents and folks who keep summer homes to escape the heat in Phoenix.  Lots of restaurants, art galleries and so on.  You'd like it..but you're probably wondering about the name.


   C. E. Cooley and Marion Clark lived there when the place was mostly ranch, partly settlement.  The two of them came to a place where it was clear one or the other would have to leave.  Guns?  No, Poker.  The trouble was, although the game ran all night, it ended in a draw.  What to do?  Cut the cards.  The way the story is told, Clark said, "If you can show low, you win."  Cooley turned up the Deuce of Clubs and said, "Show low it is."  Clark walked.  The town became Show Low and main street is still called Deuce of Clubs.

You gotta be kidding!


   In other matters, I found a couple of leftovers from the Grand Canyon in my camera that need to be shared:

   Amazing colors and lines in a bowl.

  A wagon wheel at Hopi House.

   And, by the way...

   I found this picture on the wall of a saloon.  If you ever stumble across a copy of the original, let me know.  Please.


And, big news:

   Joy, joy, joy!!  My 7 year old Granddaughter, Katie made the big time.  She is finally tall enough to pass muster for a ride on one of those aerial drops. She's always been brave enough, but never tall enough.  Now she is..and she did..and it was terrific.  Just thought you'd like to know.

   See you around the car barn.

   Home Monday.

   I think..


JS.  8/8/2015

Monday, August 3, 2015


Grand, indeed

Grand Canyon, AZ.  8/3/2015:   This must be the place.  As some old comedian used to say, "There's no place quite like this place, so this must be the place."  This is the Grand Canyon, one of the Wonders of the World.  It is so grand it covers 1900 square miles, is 277 miles long (river miles), is one mile deep and up to 18 miles wide.  It can be seen from space.  That is one really grand canyon.

   It fascinates me, mentally and emotionally, so I keep coming back as often as I can.  

      In round terms, the Grand Canyon is 2 billion years old..half the age of the Earth itself.  It has great beauty, but it also has dignity. And the canyon has a hear it with your eyes.  Listen and you will learn.

Sky so blue, shadows so deep.


   Our day at the canyon was full of side stories.  For instance,we encountered  this Raven, who seemed to like having its picture taken.

   We first saw Mr. Raven sitting on a stone wall at the edge of the canyon, so we pulled up near it.  I thought I could get a picture, but I didn't want to do it from too far away, so I moved the car slowly until we were parked literally next to the bird.  It never fact, it preened for the camera, turning its head left and right, up and down--ruffled its feathers a bit--but it never moved until another car drove in.  Seeing the new group, the raven turned its back on us and marched up the wall to see what it could do for the next customer.  

   I've seen them do this before.  I suspect they're just hoping for a goody from your lunch box, but you are told repeatedly not to feed the animals in the park.  Obviously, somebody does feed them, because they keep coming back.  It's very clear they are not afraid of people.


   Whoa!  That is a classic T-Model Ford, just like the one that a young Edsel Ford drove from Detroit to San Francisco in 1915 to prove the car was tough enough to do it.  The country wasn't much on pavement in those days, so Edsel took dirt roads, cow paths and the easiest way across farm fields to get there. And he did.  

   Now, meet Jim Gallagher of North Carolina.  He and his crew are doing the same thing.  

   Their Model T comes from Maryland, where it was tuned up for the trip, which began in Detroit, just like Edsel's foray.  Ford Motors donated a 2015 Mustang to go along as escort, but naturally, nobody pays a lot of attention to the Mustang.

   Jim says the only problem they've had so far is one flat tire. 

  Because the car isn't allowed on the Interstates, it is doing what Edsel did..back roads and farm fields. Jim says they've met a lot of great people along the way, including farmers who've opened gates to let them through and folks who just want to talk.  He and his crew stopped today at the canyon as one of the major waypoints.

   The T-Model is a muddy mess, but Jim told me that when he, as a representative of the Historic Vehicle Association, turns it over for display in San Francisco, it's going to stay "as is" so everybody can get a sense of what it did and how it did it.  

   It was like old times: I found myself doing an interview.

   Jim's a great guy..and he's got one heckuvva car.  Here are a couple of details you might like:

The catbird seat.

Elegant hood ornament.

The marker.  Look for it.


    Now, here's a factoid you might have missed:  CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) workers helped with construction projects at the park beginning in 1933.  One of the many jobs was to string a telephone line from the south rim to the north rim.  One of the poles still exists, planted just over the wall at the edge of the precipice near the El Tovar hotel.  Some kinda feat!!


   It was a wonderful day, but marching along with me can be wearisome, sometimes, so Jane always brings her crochet work.  She took a break in a rocking chair on El Tovar's spacious front porch while I went off to the cliff-top Kolb studio.

   There are worse ways to watch the passing parade.  Jane took some of these pictures..but not that one.


    As I said, I come here as often as I can.  If you have read this blog before, you may remember that I have a favorite bench by the canyon.

It still is.


JS.  8/3/2015

Friday, July 31, 2015


Nothing Like It

Arches National Park.  July 31, 2015:   Geologists say Arches lies over a gigantic bed of salt left by an ocean that flowed in some 300-million years ago, eventually evaporating.  In the ensuing years debris from wind, flood and other transient oceans compressed into a rock mantle over the salt.  The weight of the rock caused the salt bed to shift..pushing the rock up into domes that inevitably collapsed.  Faults deep in the Earth added to the process, causing cracks in the rocks that, with time, wind and other natural forces, led to the arches we go out to see today.  


   The park road winds from the entrance near Moab, Utah through an area encompassing nearly 120 square miles of mountain desert.  It runs past massive red sandstone structures, many larger than city buildings.  There are over 2,000 natural arches in them, some as small as 3 feet in diameter.  The largest, Landscape Arch, measures 306 feet from base to base.  Most of the largest are accessible from the two lane roadway.

   The surrounding structures come in all sizes and shapes.  Probably the most easily recognized is "The Balanced Rock."

   I call this one "The Sphinx":

   So what would YOU call it?

   Notice the band of different colored stone running horizontally through the structure..caused by layering as the sandstone built up.  You see this throughout the park.

   If you come here, remember it's high desert, around 5,000 feet above sea level. In the summertime, it's hot.  Temperatures during our visit were in the 90s and often run up from there.  You don't go out without water--the Park Service will warn you repeatedly to drink plenty, and even furnishes a place at the Visitor's Center to refill your bottles.  Dehydration is your enemy.  

   There are rest rooms at some of the overlooks, but no other accommodations in the park unless you're camping.  You have to reserve a spot for that--and you should inquire about it months in advance.

   But this is something you really ought to see.  As the song says, "rise and look about you."


    A place for dreamers.



JS.  7/31/2015

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


View Unlimited

July 28, 2015:   We left Ft. Collins, CO early in the morning, heading up Rt. 34 to Estes Park..gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park.  Once inside the park, the road switchbacks from meadows at 7,000 feet to Alpine Tundra at 12,000..breathtaking miles weaving among tremendous peaks up to what seems like the top of the world, then spiraling down the other side of the range.  Majestic.  Impossible to fully comprehend.

   We were ready, we thought.   Our cameras were ready..including our cell phones. 

    But a word of caution: we went through the the peak and back a single day.  It's not for everybody. The altitude can really get you if you're not already acclimated.  Even though we had been in the region several about the five to seven thousand foot level..the altitude at the visitor's center, just under 12,000 feet above sea level, left us a bit light headed and winded.  That eased off as we descended the other side, but we were very tired at the end of the day. Try to give your body some adjustment time..and drink plenty of water before going up there and while you're there.   Just sayin'.



    Keep your eyes open for wildlife.  These Elk were minding their own business when we came along.  I shot the picture out the window of my car.  You don't walk up to wild animals to say hello--they aren't interested in being sociable and can be dangerous if approached.

   Take a look at this guy:

   Mr. Moose was strolling through a meadow when we passed by.  Once again, I shot the picture through the car window.  Moose are always dangerous..but isn't he magnificent?   


   Mrs. Moose was working a tasty patch just up the road. 

  RMNP is also home to bear and mountain lion, I'm told.  I haven't seen any, but I haven't gotten too far off the beaten path there, either.  My assumption is that they will keep their own company so long as I keep mine.  Sounds fair.

  On previous visits, I followed trails to beautiful lakes.  Other hikers went deeper into the mountains with back packs.  The park, hundreds of square miles of it, is a great place to wander and long as you mind your manners around the permanent residents.



         Delicate.                                       Beautiful, but touchy.

The Rockies.   




JS.  7/28/2015

Saturday, July 25, 2015


Some Days Are Like That

Cheyenne, Wyoming,  7/25/2015:  There's nothing quite like it.  Rodeo is supposed to be a competition among cowboys to see who's best at doing what cowboys do.  Of course, what you see in the arena may be a bit larger than real life, but that's OK because it's more fun than a least for the fans.

   This is the great Cheyenne rodeo's 119th year.  We spent the day there--first at the big parade and then out at the arena.  I'm not going to get too wordy here; we'll just let the pictures speak for themselves..mostly.

   That's how it's supposed to be done.

 That isn't.

You think that feels good?  Check his face.

Or his..

That bull has evil intentions.

So does that one.

Back to work.  Catch the critter..

Got what?

    Git 'im down and hog-tied for branding, that's what.  This is a good study of how the horse and the rider work together.  The horse's job at this point is to keep the rope (lariat) taut so the calf can't move away from the rider.  It works out, generally.

    This doesn't look like much fun, either.  The rider is diving off his horse to catch the steer by the horns to rassle him to the ground.  This can produce interesting results (see top picture).


   Nobody ever said a cowboy's life was bed of roses, but these guys make it look way too hard.  

   They are the cream of the crop, though, and among all the chills and spills that make such fun pictures, you see performances that make you wonder how in the world they can do that.  They're like professional golfers: if I could hit a ball the way they hit a ball on their worst days, I'd be doing pretty good.  Same with professional cowboys.

   It's also well to keep in mind that the animals are athletes, too.  They are trained for rodeo..records are kept of their performances.  And they are really smart..some might even call them cunning.

   Ride 'im, Cowboy.

   Ride 'im.


JS.  7/25/2015