Chimney Rock, Colorado

Leading a group of forty west to the UUBar………………….

             Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

Welcome back.   This week I’m taking you back in time once again. The year was AD 925 and the place was called Chimney Rock, lying between what would later become Durango and Pagosa Springs, Colorado in the 4,100 acre San Juan National Forest Archaeological area. Sitting on top of a mountain, Chimney Rock stands 315 feet tall and archaeologists estimate that the rock itself is over 535 million years old. In AD 925 the Pueblo people built a community here with seventy-five mile panoramic views of the area. With only a narrow path leading to the top the two thousand or so residents probably felt safe in their natural fortress where they could easily see any approaching enemy.

Since the early 1960s Dr. Frank Eddy of the University of Colorado and many others have been excavating this site and they have uncovered hundreds of artifacts revealing how these people lived.  Their buildings included spaces for living, working and religious ceremonies. At the center of the buildings was the so-called Great House with many ceremonial rooms, known as kivas. According to local history, the same Pueblo people who inhabited Chimney Rock also discovered the famous Pagosa hot springs.

Today the site is jointly managed by the United States Forest Service and the Pagosa Ranger District and the Chimney Rock Interpretative Association which is staffed by both the Forest Service and volunteers who conduct daily guided walking tours of the site from May 15-September 30. Up to 10,000 visitors tour Chimney Rock annually and now there is a push to declare the rock a national monument which would further protect the site and open the door for expanded tourism and research opportunities in the area.

I first learned about Chimney Rock when Loretta and I visited the area four years ago and I can tell you it was a breath taking climb to the top along that narrow trail. The history here is awe inspiring as is the surrounding countryside and it is hard to imagine a place more deserving of national monument status.

While I’m in New Mexico I am also planning to go back to Ghost Ranch outside of Abiqui. In1933 Arthur Pack, an editor for an East Coast magazine, bought Ghost Ranch after visiting the area for a story. Pack built a dude ranch for the rich and famous and soon many celebrities were regular guests, including Charles and Anne Lindbergh, Leopold Schakowsky, the Johnson family of Johnson & Johnson and the person who would show the world the astounding beauty of the area, Georgia O’Keefe. O’Keefe eventually bought a piece of land from the Packs and built her own home there. She spent the rest of her life painting the extraordinary landscape around her.

In 1941 Ghost Ranch became part of history again when scientists from Los Alamos who were working on the Manhattan Project started coming to the ranch for rest and relaxation. For security reasons during this period the ranch was placed off-limits for the everyday visitor until 1947.

In 1955 Arthur and Phoebe Pack donated Ghost Ranch to the Presbyterian Church in hopes that the church would make good use of this magical and mystical place. I would say they have succeeded. Hiking, horseback riding, stargazing and exploring the past are just a few of the activities that are available to visitors. But don’t count on your cell phone or your ATM card- they may not work in this remote area that feels like a step back in time.

Over the years thousands of kids have come to church retreats here and had their horizons expanded by the experience. Peace Corps members and National Guard troops have been trained at the ranch and Georgia O’Keefe even had her ashes scattered over the property when she died in 1986. The Packs would be very happy.

I am anxious to be inspired by Georgia O’Keefe’s creative spirit once again.

Till next time I’ll see ya down the road….



Ty England, Zane Grey and Georgia O’Keefe

I hope you will ride along as I head out to New Mexico for a spring trip…

                   Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

Welcome back.   The plans are already in the works for next year’s The Good, The Bad and The Barbeque and judging from this year’s event, with close to 1,000 people in attendance, the folks at Elder Care may need an even bigger tent in 2013. The mix of people gathered to support this fine organization has a lot to do with the success of the evening. Everyone from your regular Joe (that would be me) to corporate moguls were visiting together and enjoying the evening. As always Katsy and Jim Whittenburg and Kathleen and Mark Bukowski were gracious and generous hosts, greeting everyone and thanking the crowd for their support of Elder Care. If you didn’t catch my column last week, Kathleen and Mark were married the weekend before the Barbeque and they were kind enough to stay at the ranch after the wedding to help Katsy and Jim host the event.

Another highlight of the evening was the appearance of musician Ty England. For those of you who haven’t heard of Ty, he and Garth Brooks started out playing music together in Stillwater and became close friends. Ty became a part of Garth’s band, together they toured the world and the rest is history. Ty is a successful performer in his own right and he mentioned that a return trip to the Barbeque is already on his calendar. You might want to mark your own calendar for Saturday May 11, 2013, the date of an event that just seems to get better every year.

Up next on my calendar is a trip west to the Land of Enchantment as I jump on board with photographer Jerry Poppenhouse and 40 other photography enthusiasts and head out to the UU Bar Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico. The lodge at the ranch is situated at 6,000 ft. above sea level but the property quickly climbs to 11,000 ft.. Former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating visits regularly and he recently said that the UU Bar is “more like a state than a ranch. You have those alpine meadows, the beautiful forests, and the abundant wildlife. It’s absolutely a colorful affirmation of the beauty of America, a spectacular picture postcard ranch.” If you are interested in coming along I am sorry to say that the lodge is completely sold out but there are still a few rooms available at the nearby historic St. James Hotel. In the past I’ve written about this stopping place of Buffalo Bill Cody, Jesse James, Zane Grey and many others and I guarantee you an experience that you will not soon forget. The hotel is just 10 miles from the lodge at the ranch so you won’t be far from the action.

After four days at the UU Bar I will be going on to artist Georgia O’Keefe’s favorite place, Ghost Ranch in Abiqui, New Mexico. The history of this area is written in the dinosaur bones that you often find while hiking and the views of the pastel colored mountains at sunrise or sunset alone make this a must see if you are anywhere nearby. Just one day and you will understand why O’Keefe spent so much of her life interpreting this landscape. This part of the world is also the home of the world’s deepest hot springs and the Indian tribe who discovered them.

The mineral waters at Pagosa Springs, Colorado have long been believed to have healing powers and now there have been several important archaeological discoveries in the area revealing that people have been coming to the springs for hundreds of years. I’ll be reporting back soon on what has been found there.

I’ll also be traveling across the continental divide in search of more interesting material and if all goes well my last stop will probably be Santa Fe which has attracted artists of every kind for years.

Till then I’ll see ya down the road…………..




Elder Care Fundraiser at the Mullendore Cross Bell Ranch

You don’t want to miss this great party next weekend, its one of my favorites!

                        Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

Welcome back.   From boots and spurs to diamonds and pearls you’ll see it all at Elder Care’s The Good, The Bad and The Barbeque on Saturday May 12th at the historic Mullendore Cross Bell Ranch. This is a big time party with entertainment by award winning western music artist Les Gilliam who plays Gene Autry tunes like Gene himself did’em. Les is a judge for the Western Heritage Awards, among many other things, and we folk in the area are lucky to get the chance to hear his fine music. Les grew up in the same town as Gene Autry and he has some great stories about his friend which he might share during the evening as well.

The committee chair for the event, Virginia Sawyer, has told me that because of the popularity of the Barbeque this year they have added another large tent where a large array of silent auction items will be displayed. They will be featuring everything from artwork and handcrafted jewelry to a three day trip to the Pagosa Springs Resort and Spa and my personal favorite, a pie a month for a year donated by Cindy Defehr. If you’ve ever tasted one of her pies you know what a treat this would be.

According to Virginia, the live auction starts right after dinner and will include fantastic Hearts On Fire diamond jewelry from McCoy’s and a week a week’s stay in a beautiful private home in Destin, Florida donated by Doug and Debbie Schwegman.

With great fishing and swimming right out your door, I’m saving my pennies for it. Another very popular item is bound to be the fishing for four donated by Bob Funk at his UUBar Ranch outside of Cimarron, New Mexico. Even if you don’t fish, it is worth the trip just to see the scenery in this part of the world. Private parties, estate jewelry and even the chance to own a 10% all expenses paid interest in an Oklahoma bred racehorse will also be included in the live auction which as always will be conducted by master auctioneer Roger Skelly assisted by emcee Charlie Taraboletti. Guaranteed to be fun for all.

Of course the proceeds from the event support the great programs and services that Elder Care offers to senior adults and caregivers in the community and since we’re all moving in that direction we need to get out and support them. For more information about Elder Care check’em out at ,call (918) 336-8500 or see their page on FACEBOOK.

For those of you who may not have been to the Barbeque before and haven’t heard the history of this famous ranch, this is the only time of the year that the Cross Bell is usually open to the public and it is well worth the price of admission to see this extraordinary place.

Till next time, I’ll see ya down the road…..







Till next time I’ll see ya down the road……………..