Dogs and old men on a Colorado trail

Red Dog Smith and I ventured out of the office late this morning for a walk down to the river. Mrs. Smith was out hiking with some friends after ignoring my sage advice to always have a pocket knife when hiking. Who doesn’t carry a pocket knife into the wild?

Red Dog on a Colorado trail.
Red Dog on a Colorado trail

Anyhow, the river isn’t far, and we got all the short way there without seeing another human being or another canine. We decided we are OK with having a trail completely to ourselves now and then.

On the way back, it got busy. We saw a total of three human beings – one walking his black Lab, two others going different directions on their bicycles.

To be more specific, we saw three elderly guys. All three had what some would call white hair, but I prefer to characterize as silver.

Sensing a pattern here?

Seeing three people in half an hour or so is what passes for busy in our rocky little chunk of Mesa County.

We also saw:

Two quick-footed lizards.

Butterflies.

Contrails criss-crossing the clear blue sky.

An enormous flat-topped mountain to the east of us.

On the way back, almost at the front door, I realized I have become some guy who writes about his lunch break now and then. I am OK with that. Red doesn’t seem to care.

Mesa County morning

Marsh in the foreground with cliffs and bluffs in the distance, looking south from the Colorado Riverfront trail. The river is beyond the marsh, at the foot of the cliffs.
Mesa County morning

If you had been out for a walk this morning before breakfast with me and Red Dog, we would have shown you this spot. It’s hard to capture with a smartphone, or with any other sort of camera for that matter, at least for this amateur photographer.

The cliffs above the Colorado River were mostly gray for the first few images I grabbed. I sorted through them for a few minutes as I sat on a bench and Red waited patiently. When I looked up, the sun had broken through some clouds to our left. I shot a few more.

We walked home, thinking about the people we will take to this place on the Colorado Riverfront Trail in just a few weeks. I’m not sure Red understands, but he seems happy enough with the idea. He wagged that tail he is so proud to show off.

The books to keep

Well, I picked my favorite John Le Carré to keep from the little collection I showed you a week or so ago.

I’m also keeping *all* of my Hemingway just because, and a few others for reasons that might be obvious. Everyone has a bird book and every writer has Fahrenheit 451, right?

Two are on the shelf because I fully intend to finish them both sometime.

There are actually a few other books I’ll keep around, likely in a box or two unless I can find a free-standing shelf that will fit into my modest new home office space.

I’m still trying to decide if 50 years is long enough to keep high school yearbooks. Maybe too long?

What do you think?

B.J.

Setting free the books

Suppose you could keep just one of these books. Which one would it be?

I know, it’s not a reasonable question. Why can’t I keep more than one? Why can’t I keep all of them?

Because I’m the one who got to ask the question, that’s why. 🙂

It’s a question I asked myself on Sunday while I sorted through some of the few boxes we hadn’t yet unpacked after a move to a smaller house. Rather than put a bunch of books in boxes in our backyard shed for someone to sort through down the road, I’m setting some of my favorites free now. They’ll go to a used book store for a few pennies on the dollar or I’ll donate them to a library or otherwise give them away. I’ll figure that out later.

The first step was to decide what will fit on my little shelves in the new place. A couple of homes ago, we had bookshelves covering an entire wall in my favorite room. We thinned that collection substantially before coming to Colorado, then a bit more in the past ten years. As hard as it can be to part with some old favorites, it’s that time again.

I don’t have every John le Carré spy novel but they’ve long been among my favorites. As someone who grew up during the Cold War, served a couple of years in the U.S. Navy, and enjoyed Russian language courses in college, I could easily imagine myself as part of the intrigue even though it was far from my own lived experience.

Still, as much as I enjoyed reading these books, it’s time to let someone else have them – except for one. I could keep a few more, but I’m reserving that shelf space for another author, whose identity I’ll share sometime soon.

Full disclosure: I’ve already decided what to keep, but that doesn’t mean you can’t change my mind.

What would you do?

B.J.

Pedaling to Palisade

When you’re pedaling around in a new place, it can be hard to avoid recalling something Ernest Hemingway wrote about bicycling.

It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.

Ernest Hemingway, White, William, ed (1967). By-Line, Ernest Hemingway: Selected Articles and Dispatches of Four Decades by Ernest Hemingway. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. p. 364.

In our case, the place is not entirely new, but pedaling our way from Grand Junction to Palisade for coffee on Saturday morning revealed more than our multiple drives in recent years to vineyards and wine tastings.

For any of the hill-shy among us, the route we took involved none of the sweaty climbing Hemingway had in mind. One slight, short incline – barely a bump in the road – got our attention on the way to Palisade and we didn’t even notice it on the way home later. 

Contours or no contours, exploring a place by bicycle gives you a chance to see and feel your new environment up close, with time to absorb some of the truth about it.

We rode the scenic river trail from near Corn Lake to where it intersects with D 1/2 Road, then turned north onto a quiet 33 1/2 Road, then east on E 1/4 Road, then north, then east a few more times until we were almost 10 miles from home in front of the pleasant Slice O Life Bakery for pastries and coffee.

Don’t get me started on how the roads are named around here. I may get used to it, but I don’t really care when I’m on a bicycle. You discover that you don’t have to remember to go either east or west on North, then take a right or left on 34 3/10 Road (or was it 36 1/4?), then angle northeast on Front to where it merges with G and the name changes.

You can stay on the trail until it ends at a bend in the road, keep the Book Cliffs in front of you until you’ve crossed the canal, then take the next right at the old red-trimmed house on the corner.

The Palisade Fruit & Wine Byway signs are helpful, too.

Pedal on.

B.J.