Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

Archive for the month “August, 2015”

Our Signature Rock

Signature Rock

There are many “signature rocks” on many trails.  They are places that pioneers and later passers-by could carve their names into soft sandstone.  Near our house, a part of the Overland Trail has a Signature Rock.  We often take ranch guests up there.  Today, Sugar and I went there with the dogs.  Here are some photos so that you might feel you have vicariously traveled this portion of the Overland Trail.  Note the ruts from 140 years ago.  She even took a picture of our house as viewed from Signature Rock.  The final photo is of another landmark on the Overland Trail — Steamboat Rock.

Cross Creek Ranch from Signature Rock

sinature rock on overland trail

initials on rock Roberts sig

more signaturesoverland remnantsoverland trail rutssteamboat rock

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Miss Sugar Visits The Line Shack

lineshacklonely

In many of my previous posts, I have alluded to the fact that Miss Sugar, my hot trophy wife, is a feminine female.  She has another side.  (When I say another side, I am not referring to Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner’s two sides.)  I am saying that Sugar is sort of a Tom-boy in that she is fun to hang out with and do stuff that two middle school boys would enjoy.  Tonight we had a little adventure.  It was an adventure which many women might not have considered fun, or so Sugar tells me.  She suggested that not all women would have fun hiking past two dead cows to get to an old line shack far from civilization.  Do you think she is pulling my leg?  I invite comments from my readership on this question about what women like because I thought I am an expert on the subject until Sugar shook my confidence.  So, dear readers, even if other women would not have enjoyed this adventure, at least Miss Sugar did.  Or so she told me.

Now I will describe the adventure.  But first I will describe the setting.

We live only about twenty miles from the metropolis of Fort Collins, Colorado, rich in Old West lore.  Our little ranch is adjacent to a 16,000 acre ranch that goes back 143 years, still in the same family.  We are the last place on the road we live on, which means we had to put in several power poles to bring electricity to where it had not previously extended.  Prior to building our house, only buffalo, pronghorns, deer, elk and, later, cows occupied the land.  Beyond us is open range, which means there are no fences.  Cattle cross the road when and where they please.  Drivers must beware.  Cattle and wildlife have the right-of-way.  The Overland Trail passes through the historic ranch as well.

James Michener’s book, Centennial, describes the area and when the TV mini-series based on the book was filmed, many scenes were on the ranch.  (Remember, no electric poles and lines spoil the view).  My friend Rodney was an extra in the series, cast as an Indian riding a horse.  This was an area which was indeed Indian hunting grounds.  There are teepee rings near our home.  Teepee rings are in clusters, indicating a portable village was in the area where the buffalo truly roamed. The grass in our pasture is a species known as buffalo grass.  There is a buffalo jump on the ranch.  The Indians would run a herd off a cliff and butcher them at the bottom.  The ASPCA would not endorse this technique.

Cattle replaced the buffalo.  The ranches were so huge that the cowboys charged with taking care of the herd could not easily go to town, or even to the main ranch.  So little cabins known as line shacks would be roughly built for the cowboys who had to stay with the herd in winter months, sometimes snowed in.

A few miles from our house, on the open range, we came across an old log cabin with only one window in each of two walls and no windows on the other two walls.  It appears to be an old line shack.  It fits the need of providing shelter in a very remote pasture close to a stream of water and protected from the west wind by a hill.  It is far from any grocery store.

Of course, we could not drive up to it because it is off the county road.  We had to hike.

On our hike we passed two dead cows.  All that is left is hide and bones.  And the putrid smell of death.  I think the coyotes did their job as scavengers.  Miss Sugar held her nose and hiked on.  She brought her camera.  She looked inside the shack and inside the barn.  Here is a photo she took.

line shack

So, if you are looking for ideas for a Saturday date night, take your date to an old line shack rather than dinner and a movie.

lineshackal

Robust Stache

Tom Selleck — Mustache Hall of Fame; Sam Elliott — Mustache Hall of Fame; Mark Twain — Mustache Hall of Fame; Albert Einstein — Mustache Hall of Fame; Wyatt Earp — Mustache Hall of Fame; Hulk Hogan — Mustache Hall of Fame.

The men listed above are mustache heroes of mine.  And now, I am prepared to join them in the Mustache Hall of Fame.  I will tell you the basis of my self-nomination.

Yesterday I bought a sandwich at a shop in Old Town Fort Collins, a very hip place, in a college town boasting Colorado State University.  Until then, I had not seen myself as a person with facial hair to which others aspire.  What changed my self-image?

The sandwich shop has a line from the sandwich makers to the cashier.  The cashier was a clean-shaven young man.  As I paid my bill, he said, “I want to comment on your mustache.  I really like it.”

“Thanks,” I cleverly responded with appropriate humility.

“I am clean-shaven now, but I used to have a mustache that kinda went down around my mouth like yours.  I gave it up because, well, mine was not as, as, I’d say as robust as yours.”  Robust?  The kid was obviously an English major.

I could see the admiration in his eyes.  I did not want to act superior.  I did not want to give false encouragement.  I tried to find the right words.

“Aw, shucks,” I eloquently began, “It don’t happen overnight.  Be patient.”

I think I gave that young man some hope.  Maybe someday, if he works diligently at proper cultivation of his whiskers, he too can find a place in the Mustache Hall of Fame.  Of course, there are no guarantees.  It is a pretty select group.

robuststache

KarenAndAlAtCrossCreekRanch

It is a special touch to have the tips highlighted in silver.  Some of us have it, some of us don’t.

Beau’s Fulfilling Day

Skunky

Miss Sugar, Art Advocate, invited several artists to our ranch for a Plein Aire event, which is French for painting outside, a term I just learned and am sharing with those of you who, like me, were kicked out of French class in 7th grade.  Anyway, the artists are painting ranch scenes and Sugar provided lunch and drinks.  Beau provided a fun challenge: try to keep brushes away from him.  Eventually, out of mercy for the artists, we chained him up to protect them.  The long chain almost reached the canopy over the tables where lunch was served, so he went there, and some kind folks gave him some scraps, so he was glad to be within reach of the buffet.

Later in the day, Michelle, who has been living in Nepal for more than a year, arrived at the ranch with her friend, Holly.  They have been friends since high school.  They both played on the basketball team.  One would think that athletes would have quick reflexes, and maybe they do, but not so quick as to be a challenge for Beau, as proven  the next morning when Michelle’s mother made breakfast for, presumably, Michelle, Holly, herself and me.  As it turned out, she also made breakfast for Beau, but not for me.  I heard Michelle request of Beau, “Get out of here.”  Nevertheless, before he complied, he reached up on the counter and grabbed a bite.  Michelle reminded us that Beau is ill-mannered.  She is an Ivy League graduate and knows rudeness when she sees rudeness.  Apparently, it is rude to allow one’s dog to eat one’s breakfast off one’s kitchen counter.  Who knew?

That is not all.  The artists returned for Day Two.  One of them, a woman who claims to be educated with a Masters in Fine Arts, stopped at McDonalds for a “to go” lunch.  She foolishly opened the door of her vehicle without taking proper security measures.  Beau grabbed the McDonalds bag.  The “to go” lunch “went” — with him, briefly.  When Sugar retrieved it from the retriever, only a few french fries could be salvaged.

I know what you are thinking.  You are asking, “Why do they put up with such a thieving creature?”

I don’t rightly know.  I guess he grows on ya.  Plus, all these victims were warned in advance.

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