Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

Archive for the tag “Centennial”

Miss Sugar Visits The Line Shack


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.


Outlaw Hideout



We live adjacent to a 16,000 acre ranch.  (You can guess whether it is bigger or smaller than ours.  But don’t ask me.  My father taught me that it is impolite to ask someone how much they earn or what something cost.  The same applies to asking a rancher how many acres he owns or how many cows he has.  That is like asking how much money you have in the bank.)  Anyway, the ranch I am writing about has a rich history.  Just ask James Michener.  He wrote Centennial about this very area and part of the TV mini-series of long ago was filmed on this very ranch.  Oh, I know how many acres without having asked the owners, who have had it in the family for over 135 years.

Part of the Overland Trail ran from Fort Collins to Laramie, including through the ranch.  A canyon is not far off the trail.  There is a waterfall.  A part of the trail goes down a steep grade called Devil’s Slide.  At the bottom was an enterprising blacksmith whose shop was in a prime location to fix or replace broken wagon wheels.  Location.  Location.  Location.  The remains of the shop are still visible, as are hundred year old ruts left on the trail.  Not only did covered wagons bring pioneers, but the Overland Trail was a stage coach route as well. 


As a neighbor and friend, I have been permitted to ride on this adjacent ranch, so don’t think I was tresspassing.  I so appreciate being able to open one gate and ride “as far as the eye can see.” 

Well, a few years ago, I was riding in a rough area on the other side of the canyon.  There are some rock outcroppings that create overhangs under which a man on a horse could get out of the rain.  Or out of sight. 

As my horse and I traveled in this area by way of a washout, exploring what was previously unknown to me, I noticed what appeared to be a wall of sticks under a rock overhang which served as a roof.  It struck me that I had discovered a well-hidden “hideout,”  perhaps used by stage robbers or rustlers.  It had definitely been constructed by humans and was definitely intended to be out of sight and difficult to find.  It was like a cabin with a rock roof and a back wall of rock, with two sides of sticks.


It was so out of sight and so difficult to find that, although I tried to note some landmarks, and thought I could remember how I got there, I have never been able to find it again.  I have gone back on horseback, attempting to recall my route and I have gone back to hike around where I thought the hideout was.  It ain’t there.

We are left to choose between two explanations.  Either I don’t deserve the title “King of the Wild Frontier,” or the place disappeared.  Under the second theory, which is much more believable than doubting my considerable abilities, I went through a time warp and was back in time when I examined the hideout.  How can you expect me to find a time warp again?

Sweat Lodges


My friend Rodney, who claims to be part Injun, knows how to build a sweat lodge. This particular blog is mainly about sweat lodges, but first I want to tell you that Rodney, who wears cowboy attire whenever I see him, also dressed like an Indian as a movie extra when they filmed the TV mini-series, Centennial, out here on Roberts Ranch. It was a good choice to film it here because, as those of you who watched the movie or read Michener’s book, on which it was based, know, Michener wrote about this very area of Northern Colorado.

Despite Rodney’s identity crisis concerning whether he is a Cowboy or Indian, I like him anyways. He also knows how to build teepees and make leather stuff, like knife sheaths, but, like I already said, this is about sweat lodges.

Miss Sugar, my trophy wife from Texas, wanted a sauna here at Cross Creek Ranch. As you know if you have read my blogs about all the stuff I done for her, like killin’ snakes and, especially, the post called My Station in Life, I try to let her know that I’m crazy about her. I married above my station in life, which is naturally humbling, so if Sugar has a hankering for somethin’ it tickles me plumb to death to get it for her.

So I got her a sweat lodge. I should have just asked Rodney to build one, but instead I got a store-bought one, made in Finland, although I would have preferred a Swedish model. Which got me to thinking. At the same time as my Viking ancestors invented saunas, Indians in North America were doing about the same thing, independently. Apparently, for centuries, people in different parts of the world have been doing similar things in order to sweat. There are probably similar things in Asia and Africa, but I ain’t done the research. I’m just saying it dawned on me that Rodney and I have in common Indian sweat lodges and Viking saunas.  Plus, we both turned into cowboys.

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