Saturday, June 28, 2014

Ferry Tales

Coming from the south, it's only 17 miles from Winifred to the McClelland-Stafford Ferry at the heart of Missouri Breaks National Monument. The route is well-signed and aside from the steep, loose-gravel descent to the river, it's cake. But it's a whooole nuther story coming from the north. If it hadn't been for Jim Dumas, I'd never have found it. 

Stage Stop in distance near left edge of sign 
I was bedding down for the night at the junction of Cow Island Trail and Warrick Road when Jim & family stopped to see that all was well. I explained my intentions and he spent the next 20 minutes making sure I wouldn't get lost. Thanks again, Jim!

Jim's grandfather homesteaded their ranch in 1904. As a child Jim said they'd sheltered in the old stage stop while waiting for the school bus; the stage served several bustling communities in those days of Westward Expansion.  

When I asked how it felt to have lived his life in one place he said he didn't know since he hadn't any experience to compare it to. He expressed envy at my lifestyle, but he, his wife and children, all looked quite happy.

Perhaps they leave the OPEN sign up regardless?

Although I saw three FERRY signs, there are several turns and "Y"s where you're on your own. Jim's directions helped a lot (see above), but having my Garmin Vista Cx saved the day. (I refer to it more often these days, but it was this trip that really introduced me to how useful it can be.)  

It's at the Top O' The Hill, less than three miles from the ferry, that the yellow diamond sign gives pause-for-tho't. 

On my reconnaissance walk I noted where, just before it got REALLY steep (vid doesn't convey steepness), somebody had turned around. The tracks were a bit smoothened, apparently from slippage; it must have been damp. It's summairz 'bout 70 miles back to the hamlet of Big Sandy and we'd, Eggbert & I, spent two days gittin' here so, even with little traffic (rescue?) my debate was biased to'ard makin' the leap. Jim had said the road on the other side was better...if the ferry was operating. No one I'd asked knew. And if it wasn't, even with it dry I wondered if I'd be able to get back up. (I envisioned unloading the pie-annuh an' the kitchen sink, then backing up the road -- I'd recently been advised that reverse sometimes works better in these si'chee-ay-shunz -- and the several "hikes" it'd take tuh git hit awl back intuh the car. But hey, what else did I have to do?) I'd figure it out.

Jack Carr and another guy each have a four-day shift as Motorman. 

Click HERE for video of Eggbert going aboard.

Click HERE for a vid of the history of the McClelland Ferry told by Jack Carr.

Click HERE for a vid of the Wheelhouse and additional history by Jack Carr.

When I asked if there had been much competition for the job, Jim allowed as how there wasn't. After all, who'd want to be stuck out in the middle of nowhere like this? He said he enjoyed it; that the river was almost alive and the passengers' stories are interesting.

The controls are simple. There's a throttle (red knob) and forward, neutral and reverse (black knob). The blue drum at the top of the picture is the drive wheel. The cable around it is what pulls the ferry across. It's powered by a Japanese-made three cylinder diesel. Eggbert beamed with pride as Jim nodded knowingly in his direction. 

Although there's been a ferry since the 1920s, this one's only been in operation ten years. That mud at the upper right of the sign used to be a swallow's nest.

The river's flow is controlled by dams, but Jim said the level had dropped over a foot in the past week. It seemed pretty benign this day. 

There's a lot of BLM land to the south, but much of the north is private; dispersed campers forewarned. Lucky Herrmann found this overlook camp.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Silverton, Colorado

A landslide closed highway 550 north of Silveron, but by the time I got there it was open an hour each day from 12:30 - 1:30. Fortunately, I arrived at exactly 1:30. The gatekeeper noted the time and said it'd open again at 6:30 p.m. 

I drove back into town and, completely out of reading material, was pleased to walk out of the library with seven books from the Books For Sale. I went once around the square looking for arrows to replace the ones I've lost or damaged in my new hobby and now bored, took the road NE out of town toward the Mine Tour. As I came off the hill I turned onto a dirt road that paralleled the river. I followed it for a couple of miles until I came to a bridge. On the other side it was a steep climb.

I drove as far as I could and parked. After a short walk I followed a side road down into a valley. Below are pictures. 

There is a camping area in front of the horizontal "gate" blocking the two-track. It's nothing more than a parking spot. 14 day limit. The house is behind the grove of aspen on the right.  

The view from below the porch.

I'll always be grateful to that highway woman. If she'd said, "It's exactly 1:30, you may go." I'd have missed out.

The next day the highway was completely open.

Requisite Train Vid......

For those who may be considering taking the train, here's a beautiful video I found on Youtube...

Monday, June 9, 2014

Rising Moon Gallery and Art Center...Wants You

When I stopped in at Abiquiu the other day Jaye Buros said she's looking for her replacement. She's gonna be 70 next March and wants to go full-time on her own art and other projects.

Georgia O'Keefe put Abiquiu, New Mexico on the map. Ms. Helen Hunt purchased the land and paid to have the building built that houses the Rising Moon Gallery and Art Center.

It's not often a position like this comes open, usually someone has to die, so Ms. Buros' retirement is a happy anomaly. She's owned the gallery for four and half years while running the Art Center as a volunteer. There is a Board of Directors that is in the beginning stages of establishing a non-profit Arts Council.

Abiquiu has recently been "discovered" and is growing. There's a Chamber Music group made up of world-class musicians that performs monthly; artists in the area hail from all over the world and their aesthetics are as broad. 

The Native and Hispanic contingents add to the diverse mix of aesthetics and the geography is such that there are four seasons. The scenery, which mesmerized Ms. O'Keefe and her friends, is still incomparable.

For more information, contact Ms. Buros at the numbers she gives in her video (above) or Ms. Peggy Thompson, Board Member, at This could ALL be yours!!!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Casting Pennies.....

In the General Direction of the Poor.

was Sophie the Cat's expression of noblesse oblige. 

The abbreviation of the name on the briefcase, Sophmeister Industries, forms the dollarsign.  

Drawing by Michelle D. Cook.

Kolob Road - Utah

Back in April when I was coming down from Canada I thought I'd check out Kolob Rd on the west side of Zion National Park. I arrived late in the day and was lucky enough to find the last campspot up a small ravine. It started raining soon after dark and continued through the night.

The cactus were blooming and there were other signs of Spring.

In the morning I tried ascending the hill but the snow was thick on the road.

Off the pavement all was gumbo. I found a shoulder that enabled me to keep an eye on the valley below and....


Around 2:00 p.m. I tried again. It had lifted some and I think I attained the crest, but the snow was coming down so hard I turned tail. The photo below was taken several hundred feet lower in elevation. 

I camped somewhere near Bluff.

Manana for Sure

I started packing yesterday. After dark I installed the new, brighter headlight bulbs and got 'em aimed. 

This morning Eggbert had his annual bath after which I picked up my new Samick Sage bow that I decided I NEED to keep my upper bod in shape. It's a 25 pd pull, light for an adult male, but something I can manage after that shoulder was injured in a motorcycle accident. (I was bombing down the boulevard on my Triumph Bonneville 650 on my way to work with the firey orb of the rising sun blinding the oncoming driver. He turned in front of me sending me airborne over his right front fender. Noticing the hood ornament, I used it as leverage to stay my flight. But luck was not with me and I fell in front of the vehicle, got hooked on the bumper and was dragged along on my shoulder while yelling, "STOP!!!! STOP!!!") I hope to work up to 35pd pull/draw.

Cholla cactus is often considered a weed. And it seems to be a little-known fact (according to my research) that it's the preferred habitat of Curve-billed Thrashers. Thrashers, distant cousins of the nightingale, affirm their lineage every morning and evening. This year the cholla bloomed more profusely than ever before.