Back in East Texas

Grandson, and his beautiful wife! Hook em!
My Son, his beautiful wife, and Grandson! Texas Proud!

Well mlove and the old SF sojourner got back to our home in Big Sandy on Friday the fourth of January. I wanted to watch the Longhorns play Georgia in the Sugar Bowl on New Years day before we left South Fork. I’m sure glad we did. That was a great game if you’re a UT fan. When mlove and I make the trip together, we generally take two days. This trip we decided to stay at the Big Texan Steak Ranch and Motel in Amarillo. They are pet friendly and Skipper had already said he would not sleep in the truck, (Actually mlove said that). Also, we were towing our CRV and they have plenty of parking so we wouldn’t need to unhook from the truck. Upon entering our room, we immediately noticed that it smelled like cigarette smoke. We assumed that their pet friendly rooms were also smoking rooms. We were tired and decided that we could deal with the smell for one night. When checking out the next morning, I did inquire about the room we had as also being a smoking room. I found out that they only have one pet friendly room that is non smoking. Live and learn. We will either make reservations a little earlier next time, or choose another PF motel that is also NS! I smoked cigarettes and a pipe for over thirty years. I finally quit cold turkey in 2002 and haven’t had any tobacco products since. I can testify that I have apologized to mlove on numerous occasions for subjecting her to my second hand smoke and smells for all those years. When you are a smoker, you don’t realize how offensive the smell is to a non smoker.

Following breakfast, we left the next morning and headed home. Made a stop along the way at the bakery in Muenster for a dozen baklavas. I love those Greek pastries. My Aunt Dutchie made them and always brought some when they came to visit in the summers when I was a kid. It was the only time that we had them. The ones in Muenster are about as close as I’ve found to matching Aunt Dutchie’s. Along the way we talked to our grandson, Logan and we decided to meet at the Jalapeno Tree in Mineola for supper. I don’t even bother with a menu. (I’ll take the queso shrimp, fried and substitute refried for charro, unsweet ice tea with lemon please.) We finally got home around 8 PM, tired but full. Thank you Lord for giving us another safe trip.

I have talked and texted one of my neighbors in South Fork several times since we left. They live in Happy, Texas and have a house across the street from our cabin in South Fork. He made a trip back to Happy to take care of some things on the same day we left South Fork for home. He was back in South Fork four days later. Since we left they have had several snow storms and all total have about a foot of snow on the ground. He and his wife have been snow shoeing around the neighborhood and it is reported that she enjoyed it. (That might just be the cabin fever talking though…LOL) I think they are planning to head back to Happy sometime after the 20th of January, and like us, probably won’t make it back to South Fork until the end of May or first of June. Sure looking forward to seeing them again. God has truly blessed us with the best neighbors that a person could ask for.

Why We Need Bears

Hiking to lake near Seward, Alaska

I have been fascinated by bears for as long as I can remember.   I spent my boyhood in the 1950’s and 1960’s, hunting and fishing in the forests and streams of East Texas.  By this time, there were no bears left in the area, but I dreamed of the time when bears roamed the lands where I hunted and fished, and longed for those days to return.  I read everything that I could get my hands on that pertained to bears; newspaper and magazine articles, personal accounts of bear encounters, and stories of bear attacks.  In my later years, I have been fortunate to be able to spend time in areas where bears are still found in the wild. 

Bears on river near Haines, Alaska

Colorado has it’s fair share of bears.  Some people will say “Yeah, but they’re just black bears”.  Grizzlies are the ones you really have to worry about”.   While it is true, grizzlies are more aggressive, let me just assure you that a close encounter with a big black bear is still quiet exhilarating.  I talked to a good friend of mine who had one such encounter while bow hunting for elk south of Pagosa Springs.  He walked up on the bear one morning just at daybreak.  Like the rest of us, he had learned from the bear experts that most bears are afraid of people and will run away at the first scent or sight of a human.  But this bear wasn’t “most bears”, it didn’t run.  In fact it stood it’s ground and didn’t retreat at all.  In Colorado, it is legal for bow hunters to carry a handgun for personal protection.  My friend was carrying his that day and had it deployed and ready to use if needed.  After what seemed like forever, the bear turned and slowly ambled off, glaring back at my friend as it went.  Thankfully the confrontation ended happily for both the hunter and the bear.  My friend will be the first to say that unexpectedly finding yourself in close proximity (about 15 feet) to a bear in the wild will leave a lasting impression on a person. 

In 2015 while fishing in Alaska, I had an up close and personal encounter with a Brown Bear with two cubs.  Another fisherman and I had walked down a steep bank to the edge of a river and were trying to hook a few silver salmon.  My son suddenly appeared at the top of the bank and shouted BEARS.  And he was gone… Let me say that when someone hears the word “Bears” and can’t see the “Bears”, but knows that they must be close, that person receives a jolt of adrenalin that is something to experience.  To say we scrambled up to the top of the bank would be like saying Secretariat sauntered around the race track.  It’s difficult to describe the emotions that one experiences when raising one’s head above an embankment expecting to see a bear or bears about to be on top of said person.  Let’s just say it is an extremely exhilarating experience.  Fortunately the bears were about 75 yards distant to our left.  We immediately walked in the opposite direction at what I would describe as a “brisk pace” (you’re not supposed to run).  I’m quiet sure that I could not have run any faster than I walked, but I guess the bears knew the difference because they didn’t chase after us.  We joined the group of fishermen, including my son and daughter-in-law, who were gathered as far as possible from the bears without taking a dip in the lake.  We all watched with what some might call, piqued interest, as the bears continued to approach our staging area.   When the bears got to the place where we had been fishing, they turned and followed the same trail down to the river, that we had just come up.  They immediately ate the stringer of fish that we left behind, and then continued down the river to feed on salmon coming up stream to spawn.  I am very thankful for my son being there to warn us.  Had he not been there, the outcome could have been quiet different.  

There is an abundance of literature available to those who are contemplating spending some time in the wilderness or in bear habitat.  State and Federal wildlife agencies provide one of the best sources of information.   I would contact the agency that is responsible for the particular area that is to be utilized.  

Bear mount from display in Alaska

Why do we need bears?  There is something primal in the heart of man that causes him to long for wild places and wild things.  Unspoiled wilderness that is inhabited by bears satisfies these longings in mans soul.  A person does not necessarily have to physically visit these places to find satisfaction in them.  Satisfaction can be found by some, just knowing that these places and animals still exist.   Bears make the wild places wilder, more exciting, and more thrilling just by their presence, and men can still go into the wild and face their fears.

Groundhog Park

Sangre De Christo Mountains in the background looking East from the start of Groundhog Park

This is one of my favorite places to ride.  From South Fork take hwy. 160 East for about 5 miles to County Rd 18, Embargo Creek Road sign.  Turn left (North) and follow to “T”.  Turn right at “T” and go about a quarter mile and turn left.  This will be Forrest Service Road 650. Follow FSR 650 to Groundhog Park.  The scenery and views on the way up are fantastic and there are several pull overs along the way to stop and take photos.  This road can be driven in a car or pickup.  Personally, I prefer to trailer my Ranger or 4 wheeler to a parking area located a few miles past the Cathedral Campground turn off.  I leave my truck and trailer, and ride my OHV the rest of the way.  The Ranger works well for taking mylove, grandkids, or friends for a leisurely ride.  It’s nice to pack a picnic lunch and spend the day.  On the other hand, I will ride my 4 wheeler if I want to ride some of the more technical trails.  The Ranger is too wide and not legal for those trails designated for motorized vehicles with a maximum width of 50″.   

Northwest of Bowers Peak and South of California Creek

Stopped along trail 796 for coffee and pics.  I would consider parts of this 4 wheeler trail to be technically difficult and recommend that it only be taken by experienced riders.  Be prepared for the unexpected when riding in the mountains.  As a minimum, always carry plenty of water, energy snacks, warm clothes, rain gear, sun screen, and first aide kit.  I would also recommend riding with a group.  Having someone along who has ridden the trail previously is a big plus, and carry a Rio Grande National Forrest map that shows the trails that you will be taking.  Anyone who chooses to ride these trails will be rewarded by the grand vistas along the way.  These make the trip worth the ride.

In my opinion, Fall is the best time of the year to get out and enjoy the Rocky Mountains.  The mornings are typically in the 40’s and 50’s but warm up quickly as the sun comes up.  If you love the outdoors and are inspired by God’s awesome creation, this is the perfect time of year to visit South Fork.  I am reminded of the words to a song “Have you ever been out to Colorado…. I spend a lot of time there, in my mind… and if God doesn’t live in Colorado, I’m sure that’s where He spends most of His time”  Thanks for visiting and may God richly bless you.  

Sharing Life’s Blessings and Getting Along With Others

America the Beautiful

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Last Wednesday mylove and I celebrated our 49th wedding anniversary, and the following Friday we celebrated mylove’s Birthday.  In 2016 we celebrated our 47th with our son Adam, wife April and grandson Aiden at Bass Pro Shop’s Big Cedar Lodge near Branson, Missouri.   In 2017, we celebrated our 48th at Big Cedar with Adam, April, and Aiden, and were also joined by our grandson Logan and wife Brooklyn.  We tried to put something together with our family this year but due to conflicting work schedules and previous commitments, we couldn’t get everybody together.  So, this year mylove and I decided to celebrate our 49th in Colorado.  We made reservations for November 7th and 8th at the Cliff House at Pikes Peak in Manitou Springs, Colorado.  We departed South Fork at 11:15 on the morning of the 7th and headed to Noah’s Arf in Monte Vista to drop off our dog Skipper for boarding. Thirty minutes later we were almost in Monte when mylove remembered that the kennel was closed from 12 noon to 3PM.  The kennel was about 5 miles East and South of Monte Vista.  Of course we were on the West side of town.  I made some quick calculations and determined that there was no way we were going to make it by Noon.  As we pulled into town we had 12 minutes to get there.  Mylove called the kennel and it went straight to voice mail.  At this point we knew that we only had one option, “Lord please let us make it to the kennel before everyone leaves”.  I really can’t remember for sure, but I may have exceeded the posted speed limit a time or two as we approached our target.  It’s really kind of a blur or maybe that was the landscape hurtling past.  At any rate, the clock hit 12 Noon and we could see the kennel.  There was a car pulling out onto the highway.  I quickly hit my left turn signal before we passed each other.  As there was only one left turn to be made, I hoped the driver would see my signal and brake lights in the rear view mirror, or possibly had seen the panic on our faces and have mercy on us.  As I pulled (slid) into the driveway, I saw the brake lights and the car turning around.  Hallelujah!  Thank You Lord!  I can’t say enough good about Noah’s Arf.  The staff is great as is the whole facility.  Highly recommended to anyone in the area needing pet boarding.  Skipper was delivered, good byes said and we were off.

Our next stop on the trail was Costello Street Coffee House and Restaurant in Florissant, Colorado.  We had passed the coffee house when mylove said awwww, I’ve always wanted to stop there but never have because of our schedule.  This time we didn’t let the schedule get in the way.  We turned around and went back to the coffee house.  As we were waiting in line to place our order, we struck up a conversation with a lady in front of us.  During the course of the conversation, mylove told her that we were on our way to Manitou Springs to celebrate our 49th wedding anniversary.  When it came the lady’s turn to order she told the cashier that she was paying for ours too.  Mylove and I protested and thanked her for her kindness but told the cashier that we would pay for our own.  The lady then said please let her do this for us and please don’t deny her the blessing.  At this point Mylove and I recognized her sincerity, accepted her kind offer, and thanked her for her generosity.  We have to be reminded from time to time that blessings are bestowed on both givers and receivers.  A stranger had blessed us and in return she had received a blessing.  It may seem like a small thing, but to us three strangers it was a spiritual encounter.  We didn’t even know each other’s name but that wasn’t important.  We had shared a Devine appointment.  The lady turned out to be a friend of the new owners of the coffee house, a young couple with the husband in the military being stationed at the Air Force base near Colorado Springs, and the wife was having a baby shower in the adjacent dining room.  We enjoyed everything about Costello Street Coffee House, the service, atmosphere and the coffee.  I would encourage anyone passing through Florissant, Colorado to make time to stop by and have a cup of coffee.  I think that you will be glad you did.

Leaving Florissant, we continued on our way to the Cliff House in Manitou Springs.  Upon arrival a valet met us at our car, secured all of our luggage on a cart, assisted us at check-in, and transported our luggage to our room.  When we arrived at our room everything was perfect except for one small detail.  Mylove had reserved a room with a jacuzzi tub but the room we were given had a shower but no tub.  Our bellman asked mylove if she would like for him to check at the front desk and see if there were any other options, to which she replied that would be truly appreciated.  After a wait of about ten minutes, we received a call from the evening manager at the front desk who was very apologetic and said that the Cliff House wanted our stay with them to be as perfect as possible for our 49th anniversary.  Although they didn’t have any other junior suites available with jacuzzi tubs, they could offer her a complimentary upgrade to a celebrity suite.  The only issue would be having to change to a different suite the following day.  Mylove said that would be great.  The bellman returned shortly and transferred our luggage to the Kathryn Lee Bates suite.  I thought he was talking about Kathy Bates but to my surprise it was Kathryn Lee Bates, the author of America the Beautiful.  Once in the bedroom it became clear who he was talking about.  The words to America the Beautiful were beautifully inscribed below the crown molding and completely encircled the room’s ceiling.  Not only did we have the enjoyment of a jacuzzi tub and steam shower, but also the luxury of heated toilet seats!  We continued our anniversary celebration with a meal at the hotel’s Red Mountain Bar and Grill, and a visit from a great niece and her two children who live a short drive away in Cascade, Colorado.  Following our meal and visit, mylove and I retuned to our suite to a glowing fire, turned down bed, and mints on our pillows.  Mylove was happy and so was I. 

The following day mylove and I enjoyed a great breakfast in the Dining Room and then spent the remainder of the morning and afternoon shopping and dining in Colorado Springs.  We returned to the Cliff House later that day and checked back in at the front desk.  Our luggage had been transferred and we were shown to our new abode, the Thomas Edison penthouse suite.  That evening we enjoyed a great meal and wine at the Cliff House Dining Room.  We finished off our day with another relaxing jacuzzi for mylove and a hot steam and shower for me.  

After a leisurely breakfast, we checked out of the Cliff House on November 9th, mylove’s birthday, and headed toward South Fork.  We decided to take a scenic detour from our normal route and turned South onto Highway 9 in Hartsel, Colorado.  We followed Highway 9 to it’s intersection with Highway 50, West of Canon City, Colorado.  We then followed Highway 50 West along the Arkansas River to Salida.  It’s not uncommon to see Big Horn sheep grazing alongside of the highway, and we were fortunate to see a small flock of ewes and lambs.  We decided to stop in Salida for lunch at Currents, a restaurant in the downtown area, and afterwards do a little shopping at Free The Monkey, a unique consignment shop just up the street.  After lunch and shopping, it was time to head to Noah’s Arf to retrieve Skipper.  We needed to be there between 3PM and 5PM to pick him up and didn’t want to cut it as close as we did when we dropped him off.   We picked Skipper up at 4:30 that afternoon and were back in South Fork an hour later.

My intent for this blog is to share the beauty and some of the activities to be enjoyed in the great Rocky Mountains from my base camp in South Fork, Colorado.  Due to the current level of unrest and turmoil that our Nation is experiencing, I felt led to share some of my thoughts concerning these events in my closing paragraph.  I hope that you will bear with me and it is my prayer that this will be a blessing and an encouragement to those who read it.   

As a Christian I believe that God is not only in control of the final outcome of human history but is also involved in the lives of normal everyday people.  Christ chose people from all walks of life to advance His kingdom.  He chose some who were perceived by the powerful of His day to be common, weak, or lowly, but He also chose some who were well educated and scholarly.  This tells me that it doesn’t matter to Christ who or what a person is.  What matters to Christ is the willingness of the person to be used by Him.  In order to be used by Christ to the fullest, a person must surrender their will to the will of Christ.  Make yourself a living sacrifice so to speak.  I heard an evangelist say one time that the problem with living sacrifices is that they keep crawling off of the alter.  This drew a laugh from the congregation, but in reality this is the way most Christians live.  They surrender all to Christ one day, then take it back the next day in order to get even with someone who they feel has wronged them, or to attack those whos views oppose theirs.  In reality, arguing with someone very seldom changes the other person’s beliefs or worldview.  All that is accomplished is to create more division and anger.  Changing a person’s worldview has to begin with a change of heart.  Surrendering one’s will to Christ is not an easy thing to do.  Staying surrendered to Christ is even harder.  All people are inherently selfish and want their own way.  It goes against human nature to give over control of one’s life to Christ.  We want to do what we want, when we want, and don’t want anyone or anything telling us it is wrong or sinful.  Our nation is in the throes of an ideological civil war that is tearing our republic apart.  No one but God knows what the final outcome of this struggle for America will be, but this I do know, as Christians our highest callings are to love one another and be a light unto a lost and dying world.  If Christians would spend more time sharing positive messages of love and hope, and less time criticizing one another over their political differences, we would have a greater impact on our postmodern society.  The Bible teaches that love will triumph over hate and light will overcome darkness, but before Christians can love the lost and be a light unto the world, they must first learn how to love one another.  We  Christians sometimes forget that our war is not against people with opposing views, but is a spiritual war against the powers of darkness.  The truth is, our country is not being torn apart by opposing ideologies, but by people who are being used by forces in whom most of them don’t even believe.  As Christians we can either choose to join in with those who are spewing hatred and discontent, or choose to show love and compassion and take the light of Christ to a sinful and lost world.  It is time for followers of Christ to act like followers of Christ.  “A new command I give you:  Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another”.  Let it start with me.

Time, Seasons, and First Snow

Well folks it’s Thursday, the first day of November and we enjoyed our first real snowfall here in South Fork last Monday night and Tuesday morning.  By my measurements we had between 7 and 8 inches, with drifts of 10 to 12 inches.  Last Monday morning as I washed the Ranger off from a previous trip up into the mountains, I thought briefly about hooking up the snow plow in preparation for the expected snow.  Nawww, I told myself, we’re not going to get over an inch or two.  I’ll do it later in the week.  Like I said, we had 7 or 8 inches of snow but when the county snow plow comes by and throws it into a long pile across your drive way, it transforms into a 3 feet high berm.  My neighbor across the street, who isn’t a procrastinator, (other than this, he has very few character flaws that I have noticed), had anticipated that the snow fall might be enough to require plowing and had his snow plow attached and ready to use.  (The dictionary tells me that anticipation is the opposite of procrastination).  I have given it some consideration and concluded that anticipation often leads to preparation, and both of these traits do have their merits from time to time.  I have decided that tomorrow, I am definitely going to subject these character traits to further scrutiny, and at some point, I will release my findings.  I looked out the front window, and my neighbor was plowing the entrances to our driveway for mylove and I so we wouldn’t have to jump the berms to get onto the road.  A little later he sent me a text offering the use of his plow if I needed it to move any more snow.  As it turned out, I had left my cell phone in the cabin while another neighbor and I shoveled snow to make paths to my truck and the wood pile.  Mylove pointed out that my phone was on the bar as I walked out the door.  I told her “I know.  I won’t need it so I’m leaving it in the cabin.”  After about thirty minutes or so of shoveling, I came back inside, heard my phone, and saw the text.  Mylove said that it went off about the same time that I shut the front door but she didn’t figure it was very important so she didn’t check it.  It occurred to me that this might be another example of how anticipation could have been useful, and saved me thirty minutes of shoveling.  A little later I saw my neighbor and thanked him for clearing the drive entrances and for offering the use of his plow.  I told him “Thanks, but I don’t need the snow plow, I just finished shoveling it by hand and anyway, I needed the exercise”.  “I’m definitely going to have my plow ready to go before the next snowfall, you can bet on that”.  He just grinned.  Not sure how to take that.

First Snow!  You know, there is always something special about the first snow.  It still gives me a feeling of excitement.  I grew up in East Texas.  If we got snow in the winter, it was there one day and usually melted away the next.  I used to watch the Christmas shows on TV and it seemed to me that they all had one thing in common.  Snow! I dreamed of Christmases with snow-covered trees, and sleigh rides, and sledding and that one day I would be able to spend Christmas somewhere that has snow.  Well God allowed me to turn that dream into reality.  I’m here in the Rockies where snow is a pretty common occurrence and can come pretty early, especially in the high country.  We’ve had snow in the higher elevations for a month now.  The Fall colors are mostly gone and the orange, red, and golden-colored Aspens that a few weeks ago covered the mountain slopes, as well as the bright amber hued Cottonwoods growing along the Rio Grande across the road from our cabin are but now a memory to be filed away until next Fall.  Pictures can’t begin to capture the awesome beauty and grandeur of God’s creation, and in South Fork we are truly blessed to be surrounded by some of God’s best work.  In the Book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon is talking to God and says “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens”   I’m not going to attempt to address each of the times and seasons to which Solomon was referring.  I just want to look at two words that he used “time” and “season”.  Time is meaningless to God;  He is eternal.  He always was and always will be.  He created time for us.  Season is a word that marks a change in something.  It can be the beginning or it can mark the end.  Time and season represent a cycle of change over a period of time.   Of the cycle of changes that God placed in nature; Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter, my two favorites are Fall and Winter.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the change that Spring brings each year with its awakening from Winter’s nap.  The freshness of a new beginning.  To me, Spring represents a time of rebirth and the freshness of youth.  I also enjoy the change that Summer brings, outdoor activities, cook outs, and getting together with friends and family.  To me, Summer represents the transformation from youth to maturity as an adult, and the settling of nature following the transformation of Spring.  When I was younger, Summer was my favorite season.  School was out for three months!

I said earlier that Winter can come early here in the Rockies, and although it is still technically Fall, Winter made an appearance last Monday and Tuesday in South Fork.  It amazes me how snow transforms a landscape.  Snow not only covers over the land’s imperfections with a blanket of white, but it also opens up a whole new world that couldn’t be previously observed.  To me the first snow represents a Spring like newness and freshness, while Fall’s transition into Winter represents maturity and settledness, much like Summer.  Snow in the Rockies also signals the approach of Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays.  Mylove’s favorite is Thanksgiving and mine is Christmas.  This is the time of the year when I begin reflecting back on Thanksgiving’s and Christmas’s past, and also looking forward to the soon-to-be Thanksgiving and Christmas that is approaching.  It is during this time of the year that our thoughts turn more frequently to friends and family, and giving thanks to God for our many undeserved blessings.  So folks, take the Time to enjoy all of the Seasons of your life.  It is my prayer that this will be a season that brings you great joy, peace, and love and may we never loose that feeling of excitement, wonder, and joy that comes with First Snow.

Bon Iver

South Fork Sojourner

Ahh…..Back in South Fork

Mylove and I left Big Sandy, TX around 8 AM on Sunday, October 12 with the intentions of driving straight through to South Fork, CO.  I was towing our CRV behind my truck so we knew it was going to be a long day.  Reality set in around Childress.  We would drive to Raton, NM and stay the night, get up early Monday morning and be in South Fork by Noon.  As we were passing through Amarillo, I got a text from a buddy of mine wishing us safe travels through the SNOW we were headed into…. What the heck!  I had checked the weather in South Fork before departing and all was well.  We had been driving in the rain for most of the day and I noticed the temperature was a little cooler every time I stopped for fuel or to walk our dog, Skipper.   Confidently, I told Mylove “Aw it’ll be fine.  We’ll just have to drive a little slower.”  About that time a snow plow and sand truck passed us on 287 North headed toward Dumas, and then we passed a flashing sign warning of ice on the bridges.  I checked my trucks thermometer and it read 32 degrees.  Hummm?  Mylove “suggested” that we get something to eat in Dumas and check for weather travel advisories on our route through Texas to Raton.  Following a quick search of I learned that an early season blizzard was barreling south through the plains of Colorado and New Mexico right where we were headed and travel advisories were issued for both states.  A few helpful tips if you’re traveling with pets and are staying in Dumas, TX (1) Holiday Inn Express, Dumas is not pet friendly, but the staff were very helpful in directing us to the La Quinta Inn & Suites right next door, (2) be sure to remove your laptop from the car and take to your room with the rest of the luggage and you won’t be out in 30 degree weather at 3 AM because you woke up in a panic remembering that you had left it in the car, and (3) check the weather for your complete trip route.

At 8:30 the following morning, we checked out of La Quinta, made a quick fuel stop and continued on our way.  By the time we reached New Mexico, the roads were clear with the remaining snow being relegated to the sides of the highway.  We made our final  fuel / restroom stop at Sierra Grande Café, just east of Des Moines, NM..  (If you are passing by this way, their sopapillas are some of the best that I have had).   We arrived in Raton, NM around Noon where we exited onto I 25 N toward Trinidad, CO.  Off to the west of I 25 we could see the Sangre de Christo’s as well as the Spanish Peaks were covered with snow from about 9,000 feet up.  The fall foliage in the high country, for the most part, had been replaced with a blanket of white.  We continued north on I 25 to the Walsenburg exit where we pick up Highway 160 west toward South Fork.  As we approached La Veta Pass, we could see the burned area from the 2018 Spring Fire was now covered with snow, hiding most of charred trees and ground.  As we descended the pass into the San Luis Valley, we left the snow from the previous day’s storm behind.  Two hours and 90 miles later we arrived in South Fork.  It’s 4 PM.  I get out of the truck, smell the fresh air and take a look around.  Everything was perfect, just like I left it.  Ahhh…..I’m back in South Fork!


Good morning folks,

Sunday, October 7, 2018

I’m in Texas preparing to teach a 40 hour radiation safety course starting in the morning.  I’ll finish the class on Friday, grade the final exams, print out certificates (for those who are successful), and invoice the client.  Teaching….. When I was a young fella, I never imagined that one day I would teach anything.  My first taste of teaching was a teen Sunday School class.  It was more of a case of “we need a teacher and you have teenagers so you are our new teacher, congratulations”.  I came to find out that the more that I was involved in teaching, the more that I began to grow.  I was learning right along with the kids.  The first thing that I learned was how little I really knew and understood about my subject, the Bible and basic Theology.  So, When I became a teacher, I also became a student.  As I began to really read and exegete the Scriptures, I was not only inspired, but fearful of the responsibility that comes with teaching God’s Word.  Years later, I accepted the invite to teach a Young Adults Sunday School class at another small church we were attending.  When I say “Young Adults”, the class consisted of members who were in their early to mid 20s to those in their early 60s.  When it was suggested that the older class members might want to move to the “Senior Adults” class, they respectfully declined.  “We’re Not Moving”  One of the benefits of having older members in a class is the practical life knowledge that they bring.  We had some lively discussion from time to time as to how the Bible addresses certain issues.  We learned that we could disagree on small points of doctrine, and that was OK, but we never disagreed on the nonnegotiable parts of the Scriptures.  Our church’s pastor was an elderly and very Godly gentleman.  He was having some health issues and asked if I would consider teaching a Wednesday evening class to the whole congregation in order to give him some relief.  I told him that I would prayerfully consider it.  Two weeks later I told him that I would.  For the next several weeks I taught a course on “Classical Apologetics” to the  Wednesday night congregation.  I remember that I was scared to death on that first night.  I thought to myself “I won’t see most of these folks back next week”  But guess what, they came back and each Wednesday night became a little easier.  By the time that I finished teaching that course it was easy and enjoyable for me.  I really can’t speak for those who attended, but as for me, I had learned so much not only about defending Christian beliefs and doctrine, but how God can use a person as weak and self-conscious as me to do something that I didn’t think that I could do.

Shortly following this, my boss at work asked me if I would teach a 40 hour radiation safety course for another company.  It went something like this “You’re going to teach a 40 hour radiation safety class for another company.  They are sending the course material by FedEx and it will be here tomorrow.  Your motel reservations have been made.  You need to be there Sunday and will teach a class next week. You’ll do fine”.   I found out that the previous instructor recently had a stroke and was unable to return to teaching.  I was a little nervous before that first class, but the teaching that I had done in Sunday Schools, and then on Wednesday nights had strengthened my confidence and prepared me for this stage of my life.

Since teaching that first class, some 18 years ago, I have lost count of how many classes there have been.   I retired in November, 2014 and have enjoyed being able to set my own schedule.  In 2017 I started a new business and wrote and registered a 40 hour radiation safety course.  I teach this course from time to time for a couple of old friends and business associates.

And this brings me up to the present.  The love of my life and I plan to leave on Sunday, October 14 and head back up to South Fork, Colorado.  This November 07, God willing, we will celebrate 49 years together.   It is my hopes to soon begin making entries into this blog that showcase the beauty of God’s creation, and highlight some of the places to experience it around South Fork and the great Rocky Mountains.

So, until then,

“The mountains are calling and I must go”  John Muir

South Fork Sojourner