Thursday, June 28, 2012

6-22-12 Friday camp video

The majority of what I captured on film is going into the Saltsman history vault with my Dad remembering scenes and people from his childhood. We'd intended to shoot some film of these stories around the campfire each night. No camp fire this year. And only one night apart from the set-up and tear-down days means this will continue to be a work in progress. Maybe stories in front of the fireplace, if it ever cools off again? :)

These are the only other three minutes of film from our time at camp in Maroon Bells. I think a quarter of that is Katy catching flies, which was during the hours we were waiting for word from the hospital. But the first section is Friday morning at breakfast.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012

6-26-12 Record Setting

You can see the flames on the left. Center right is the Cave of the Winds where Sammi had her ghost tour birthday. To the right of that is the canyon hike Deana and I just did in May.

There are currently 10 wildfires burning out of control in Colorado. The High Park fire continues, the most destructive fire in Colorado history. The Waldo Canyon fire, pictured above, is poised to be the worst in all of Colorado Springs area, ever. The Boulder fire that sprang up today is threatening to evacuate parts of the city.

We've set heat records for the past four days. And we broke another record -- never in the record keeping history of Colorado, starting back in the 1840s, has there ever been this many triple-digit days in a row in Denver.

We've never needed rain more than now -- heavy, dousing, lightening-free rain needs to pour out of the sky across the entire state for hours and hours, days even.

Many Colorado homes are without air conditioning, and most without air conditioning can't handle these temperatures. I'm sitting amid a mess in the loft, every piece of furniture that could possibly block the flow of air through the floor vents moved to the center of the room. Floor vents, made primarily to carry hot air from the floor up to the ceiling, do nearly nothing with cold air. The ceiling fans stay on high in any room not inhabited. I have to turn them down to medium or my eyeballs dry out and I can't blink.

And what everyone in Colorado is thinking is this: it's only June.

Monday, June 25, 2012

6-25-12 Happy Birthday Marci!

Today it is Marci's birthday. It is also the start of the Battle of Little Bighorn, but I digress. This is about Marci history.

Marci and I met our sophomore year in summer band. We'd been cast together in a squad and maybe she can help me remember who else was with us -- Robin Blackmon, and who else? Marching side by side in the sweltering Houston heat on a half grassy/half bald patch of field tends to create foxhole friends for life.

It wasn't long before we were hanging out at each other's houses, spending weekends together, going to the movies, trading notes on boys -- real notes, not text messages -- folded in that funky 80s style. (Here is a refresher course, if you need one. Amateurs.)

We traded clothes, ones with giant shoulder pads, skinny ankles, high waists, neon colors, and crazy bold patterns.  We should probably cop to being caught many times in a blazer with rolled up sleeves, skinny tie, and/or beret. . .  and stirrup pants with two very long, collared shirts, popped, with gigantic earrings.

I admit nothing concerning leg-warmers.

Marci entered my life at a time when I was feeling alienated from the regular group I'd been a part of from church. After my first heartbreak, it was Marci who kept my head on my shoulders... and made a few prank calls to get me laughing again. After my second break-up, we were out shopping at the mall and laughing the next day. Paulette still mentions how much she enjoyed being my lockermate in homeroom, primarily because of the Chippendales calendar hanging inside the locker door, my Christmas present from Marci that first year. (Marci, Dad nearly banished our friendship over that calendar. You just skated by!)

We never had many classes together. She was doing the higher order math and all the computer classes she could take, ones where you had to have your own supply of 5.5 floppy disks for memory storage on the Commodore 64s. I was taking much tougher stuff like Introduction to Drama where we lip-synched to the Supremes' "Stop in the Name of Love" for one assignment, and Mr. LaTouche's Business Law class, after which I planned to make millions as the youngest partner in history at some firm resembling L.A. Law's. We did have a semester of Academic Decathlon together, hours before and after school and on weekends studying ten different subjects, before she jumped ship. (Quitter ;)

But we made up for the brief moments in the hallways and afternoons of band practice with hours of talking at night. These were the days were you spent evenings on the phone, tying up the only land line in the house, getting fussed at by the rest of the family, and not being able to move farther than across half the room before the cord stopped you. Those were conversations where you were actually present, listening and talking and not multi-tasking a millions other things, mostly because you just couldn't reach anything else. 

One of the hardest classes I struggled through was homemaking (read: sewing) that I got stuck in my freshman year when I'd signed up for typing. It was that class that made me appreciate Marci's seamstress skills. She often made her own banquet gowns, and then let me borrow them. At right, us at our Band Banquet, as juniors, her last year in band while trying to also keep up with the Lariaettes dance team. She really couldn't be in two places on the football field at once, it turned out. We are both wearing creations by Marci, the teal number being one that she'd whipped up for her junior Lariaette banquet that year.  If memory serves, the previous year we'd both worn the same lacy blue number I'd picked up at 5-7-9 (in a size 2, sigh) which I wore to sophomore band banquet and she wore to sophomore Lariaette banquet. Looking at the photos, we were recycling long before it went viral...

At Baybrook Mall, right near the food court, was a camera shop that had a large photo booth where you could pose together without sitting on top of one another. Here is the surviving evidence that we were giant goobers:

We strategically stayed at school on Senior Skip Day, and made our own, a week later when we could easily get away with it. What did the rebels do? We hit the zoo, Hermann Park, and the Museum of Natural Science. Livin' la vida loca, baby.

Senior Tea

Prom, Table 17 and after graduation at the overnight Project Graduation held at the school.

We had one last summer of hanging out, laying out by the pool, and running around before we headed our separate ways to college. She was heading to UT and I was going to SHSU. 

We had only one weekend in the fall where we were both back home at the same time in October, 1988.  We also sat for a set of pictures together, this time at the local camera guy's place just down the strip center from Randall's. We included these in our Christmas Party invitation we sent out to a bunch of high school friends to be held over Christmas vacation at my parents' new house in Clear Lake. (How I have zero pictures of that event, I have no idea.)

It was at that Christmas break that the wheels started turning in my mind about transferring to school in Austin for my sophomore year, where Marci and I shared our first apartment at 2232 Royal Crest and adopted our kittens from the Austin shelter, Calvin and Hobbs.

But after that year, deciding I was in a rush to graduate and seeing that I could finish all the requirements of my degree at SHSU at least a year faster than at UT, I moved back to Huntsville in 1990. She was my maid of honor in 1991. I was hers in 1994. And somewhere is a picture of her in her wedding dress and me in my hugely floral printed bridesmaid dress and hat.

We got together in 1997 at her house in Dallas with my kids, just before she and Ren moved back to Austin. We went to Six Flags during her company event. Bob managed to win a 6 foot tall Bugs Bunny in the first hour we were there and we had to wag that thing around with us the rest of the day with a stroller and two small kids. Fun times.

In 1999 we spent a weekend down at Nuevo Laredo shopping, long before you were taking your life in yours hands crossing the borders there.  And then life really got in the way, so that the next ten years are kind of a blur. I remember coming up to Austin one weekend, buying beanie babies on the side of the road, going to the pool, and watching The Usual Suspects in the upstairs loft when Brittney was a little baby. Marci and Ren came to visit us once in our rent house in Navasota. Marci came for a weekend one time in the house we bought in 2000, when she and Ren were deciding on the house plans they would eventually build in Austin, and where they still live today. We'd trade Christmas Cards with updated photos of the family. But there were very long stretches of silence, when we were both caught up in raising kids and working, years just slipping by.

But every time we did manage to reconnect, it was like no time at all had passed, as though we were still those giggly, eye-rolling girls who kept trying to keep Robin marching on the correct foot in time to the music: "LEFT, LEFT, LEFT!" In 2004 I went to Austin for a conference and spent a night at the Maddox house.

In 2008, I flew from Colorado to Austin. It had been four years since we'd seen one another. And there she was, waiting for me at the top of the escalator, just like she's always been there for me. We spent the first night plowing through all her old scrapbooks from high school and college. Then we drove to Houston for our 20th high school reunion and stayed at her parents' house, the same one where I'd spent so many nights at as a teenager, crammed in the single room that housed her and her two sisters. We drove around all the familiar haunts of the old neighborhood. It was such a fun weekend of reminiscing and wondering how time passes so slowly, and yet like quicksilver.

In 2010, for her 40th birthday, Marci took the weekend to visit me. We ate out, talked, took walks, watched TV together. It was nothing major, but it was special. 
In 2011, when I was laid up from surgery, she sent me Puppy Flowers and chocolates, which arrived at exactly the right time to make me smile when I feeling blue. 

I got an email from her that she found herself giggling so much late one night while reading my blog, she was afraid she was going to wake Ren. We chatted for nearly an hour a couple of months back. Just those tiny little strands that continually bind us together, remind us of how far we've come, and how precious our friendship is.

I get to spend the weekend with her in Austin as I'm helping Nick get moved to Southwestern. August in Austin. I think we could have planned that a little better...

Happy Birthday Marci! I love you, my dear friend.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

6-20-12 the road video

A few minutes of scenery on the road to Maroon Bells, from the exit onto I-70, a ride through the short little tunnel near Idaho Springs, and the ride through the highest and longest North American tunnel, the Eisenhower. There's a bit of Twin Lakes, a few of the switchbacks at the start of Independence Pass in here, too, and just a bit of the campsite and river as we first arrived.

6-24-12 Silver Queen Campground Maroon Bells

When I was looking at the options for camping near Maroon Bells, I wasn't able to find a whole lot in the way of pictures of the campsite. 

Here's the report:

Silver Queen is the last of the three small campgrounds on the road to the Bells. It is still more than three more miles up the road to the lake.

Once you stop in at the ranger station and show them your reservation, you will need to hand over $5 for the parking pass that allows you access on the road for the duration of your stay. The gates into Queen are pictured at right.

Only site #3 is a pull-through, which is why we chose it for two cars plus a trailer. All the others are back-ins and just long enough to accommodate a truck and smaller sized camper. The sites are primarily intended for tent camping.

 All of the sites are covered in aspen stands that offer varying amounts of shade. Sites 1, 2, 3, and 6 (the manager spot) are along the left of the road near the river. Sites 4 and 5 are at the back and to the right, along with the toilets. The road circles at the end at sites 5 and 6 around the water faucet and garbage dumpster.

Campsite #4 nearest the toilets with the truck and people out for the day.

Campsite #5 on the other side of the toilets away from the water has a shorter looking back-in space. #4 and #5 offer some views of the Bells behind them. 

Campsite #6, according to the reservation site it is designated "manager" but these folks pulled out on Friday. 

Down the little trail by the dumpster is a rock garden and slow moving water that is perfect to wade around in. 

This is campsite #2, with water access.
This is campsite #1 nearest the road on the water's side.

The only road noise you will hear throughout the day is the shuttle bus taking day trippers to the lake and back. It's a very quiet spot and the sound of the rushing water drowns out even the bus noises for the most part.

You are just six miles from Aspen, although finding much in the way of camping supplies is a lost cause. The City Market is very small and on the other side of town. Plan on paying premium for anything you need and not needing anything unusual. Campers can buy a pass for $5.60 the last 90 minutes of the day (7:30 to 9:00 weekday nights, earlier on weekends) to access the facilities at the Aspen Recreational Center, which is on the same road before the traffic circle that takes you back into Aspen. They have a very small weight room, cardio room, ice rink, pool, rock climbing wall, hot tub, and showers. Be advised you are allowed in, but if someone who is not a member is inside, you will be locked out without a pass key through the doors to the weight and cardio rooms. The woman at the desk was very friendly and suggested we just bring our PJs, play, showers, and head for the tents set for bed. Had we been able to stay longer, we would definitely have made use of those hot showers that Friday night. 

6-24-12 The Barn Swallow Babies

Two weeks ago

Wednesday (three babies, the second one is resting his beak on the first one's butt.)

That nest gets smaller by the day.

6-22-12 Ashcroft Ghost Town

After breakfast, the four of us left the dogs with Mom and Dad and went to check out the nearby ghost town of Ashcroft which is just 17 miles from our camp.

 Colorado 1880, Crazy Culver set out with his friend W.F. Coxhead from Leadville to make their fortune finding a new silver stake in the pristine Castle Creek valley.  23 more prospectors soon joined them in the place they named Castle Forks City and shortly after there were 97 men who formed the Miner's Protective Association. In 1883 the camp had been renamed Ashcroft and boasted a population of 2000, two newspapers, a school, a sawmill, and 20 saloons.

But two years later, the shallow vein of silver had dried up, the prospectors moved on to Aspen strikes, and only 100 people remained. Fifteen years after that, just a handful of men still lived there, spending their days hunting, fishing, reading and drinking at the lone bar. The bar owner often traded drinks for stories and was the main place to find the sporadic work that might be available in the area. The last original resident Judge Jack Leahy died in 1939.

Ashcroft had a chance at revival in 1939 when Ted Ryan and Billy Fiske, of the gold medal winter Olympic bobsled team built a lodge nearby and planned a resort with tramway up to Mount Hayden. But World War II intervened and Fiske was killed in action. Ryan leased the property to the 10th Mountain Army division to train, and then deeded the site to the Forest Service after the war.


We got back to camp for lunch and a nap before the world caved in, which brings you back to this story.