Lowdown: We were surrounded

On a hot, sunny evening in the valley we sat on smelly folding lawn chairs we should have replaced years ago but I didn’t know until just then that they were smelly, as if they’d been stored in a dark, dank basement for years. Now I know.

To the east loomed a flat-top mountain, reaching five-thousand-plus feet above us. Sheer cliffs to the south and west obscured another horizon but promised to hide the sun in just a little while. To the north and stretching toward Utah, more cliffs hid the high desert that reached beyond to wherever.

Strangers and friends arrived with their own smelly chairs and straw hats and camera phones and smiles, and attitudes and opinions on their tees and skins, and expectations of reliving something of the past that just would not fade away. An hour on, maybe more, it happened in this place by the river where we sat surrounded by the world and now by sound.

Boz Scaggs was at Las Colonias Park, Grand Junction, Colorado.

It’s not really over, but I’m sorry you missed it.

Red Dog asks: What’s a Boebert?

Red Dog Smith is obviously watching too much news lately, or somehow absorbing it through our befouled political atmosphere here in Mesa County or maybe he has his own Twitter account and I just haven’t found it yet.

I try to be honest with him and tell him what I do and don’t know on any topic he’s curious about, so I gave it my best shot when he asked me the other day in his endearing, innocent canine way, “What’s a Boebert?”

Image by Daniel Roberts from Pixabay

“I honestly don’t know for sure what a Boebert is,” I said. “My impression, based on the behavior of one individual who pretends to represent a large portion of the state of Colorado in the U.S. House of Representatives, is that a Boebert is someone who says all kinds of nasty, hateful things about other people in order to get attention, applause and money.”

He gave me that look, the one I get when I’ve either talked too fast or mumbled semi-coherently.

“You heard me correctly,” I said. “I don’t know for sure what a Boebert is, hard as that is to believe.”

The next look was the I’m sorry I asked look, which I get from both Red and Mrs. Smith on occasion.

“Okay, Red,” I said. “I’ll keep it short. Since you asked, here’s what some people have said on the Boebert question recently.”

A “proudly uneducated person” – @RonFilipkowski, former Republican

Someone who says “cruel, false, and bigoted things” – @KyleClark, Colorado journalist

Something that is “only going to get worse” – Mother Jones

A dangerous, toxic person – @bjsmith

Red growled at me about then. Clearly he’d heard enough.

“I get the picture,” he said.

“Not a pretty one, is it?”

“Nope, not a pretty picture,” he said.


If your own dog has questions, please share them here and we’ll do our best to answer them.

B.J.

A chasmic day off

Taking a Friday off to explore our new stomping grounds is always a good idea. Even better when the weather is fine.

Paonia was a few miles off the map-app-recommended route to the Black Canyon, but what the heck. We had a nice early lunch and came back later to taste some wines.

We had talked about checking out the north rim of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park since visiting the south rim last year. You can see across the canyon, of course, but there’s nothing quite like being on the other side.

The trail we’d planned to hike to Exclamation Point was muddy enough from recent snowmelt that we decided to check out the Chasm View loop instead. The punctuation will surely still be there next time, and the loop was nearby and mostly dry.

As we’ve now seen first-hand, the view is awe-inspiring from both sides as you peer over the edge to see the river 2,000 and some feet below.

The chasmic view.

There is much more to explore and learn about out here away from the madding crowd.

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.