A Slow Creep in Thin Air

American Basin, at Cinnamon Pass

American Basin, at Cinnamon Pass


Someone very wise said it first:  “We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” 

Downhill, Cinnamon Pass

If we’re acquainted, you’ve heard me say on more than one occasion that I’m lucky to live where I do.  I am much more likely to run out of years than I am to run out of beautiful adventures within reach.  

Test Drive

Test Drive

It took the most of two full days to travel and photograph a scant sixty miles straight up and straight down on Colorado’s Alpine Loop.  The switchbacks and drop-offs on this route between Lake City and Ouray are notable.  The path to summit is one-lane and two-directional, requiring vigilance and foresight, plus a keen ability to back a vehicle onto the only available ledge that is broad enough to allow travel in both directions.  

The Road Less Traveled

The Road Less Traveled

I would not consider myself a thrill-seeker, but in two days of travel on the Loop, abundant thrills found me.  I saw a moose in the willows of Wager Gulch, a clan of marmots playing at the top of Engineer Pass and a developing wildflower show in American Basin.  I heard wind hissing through the remnants of a mining camp and felt the shallow press of breath in a short hike above tree line.  And I learned to lean into the jolts and bumps of the road, just as if I were on horseback.  

Spotted Meadow

Spotted Meadow

We took a detour up Schaeffer’s Gulch, alternating stops to heave boulders to fill in deep road ruts with other stops to roll away boulders blocking the path.  This side trip was halted at tree line, where snow still covered the road on a north-facing slope.  At elevation, the June sun is near and will soon transform the drift.  But for now, it caused a turnabout.

Summit #2

Summit #2

In the end, the only casualty of this high, slow creep of an adventure was a torn-up arm earned in a spill I took as I explored one of the ghost camps.  Saved the camera, but bashed the arm.  Far worth it, for the experience.

Ghost of a Honky Tonk

Ghost of a Honky Tonk

Also earned, I must say, was the great satisfaction of knowing I hadn’t allowed fear to completely distract from the pleasure of my journey :-). 

Mitch the Marmot

Mitch the Marmot

I hope you enjoyed the ride.  


All in a Blog’s Time, My Pretty

Spring Morning:  Lucky Dog Ranch

Spring Morning: Lucky Dog Ranch


In the excitement and diversion of launching Through the Lens of We, I paused for a moment and thought about the beginning of my musings as Winsomebella.

I started scribbling here just about two years ago, during a visit back to the cabin at the Lucky Dog Ranch. I had moved to the Denver area but I returned for a weekend to care for the place, to scrub and paint and open it for summer. But when an uncommon steady rain interrupted planned outdoor chores, I got diverted and started writing.

I was still quite tender about the Ranch when I started this blog.

You probably could tell that then. I wrote about life in a log cabin at an altitude of 8000 feet on 40 acres in the midst of acres and acres of national forest. I wrote about the Ranch tempting me with its wild hand of new adventure and how my hand was weary and slapped silly by the poor results of a long marriage. I wrote about moving there when my marriage had gone under for the last, ugly time and how it felt to live alone for the first time in my life, at the overripe age of a few years past 50.

You can see its place in the vastness in this picture.

You can see its place in the vastness in this picture.

I wrote about plowing snow with an ATV; about shoveling earth to divert run-off water to irrigate the meadow properly; about wielding a chain saw and rather handily cutting brush for fire mitigation; and how I eventually took the time to cook a meal-for-one that did not involve Cheerios. I recalled that aha! moment when I first realized that the clutter and mess I had blamed on a husband and two sons for nearly 30 years was actually my mess and mine alone.

Saturday night at Lucky Dog Ranch

This view is one of the reasons it’s called The Lucky Dog Ranch.

My body ached at the end of long days of hard work. But my heart may have pumped its greatest clarity there, at night, in my bed, as I stared at the stars.

My what-next plan hatched during a very long night about four years into my Ranch adventure.

I was thinking: What might happen if I traded my plow for a bicycle?

Surely, I’d breathe easier by giving up 3000 feet in elevation. Without a couple hundred inches of snow to plow, I’d have time instead to dig more deeply into me. Maybe without the burden of a sixty-mile round-trip to the grocery, I’d find a way to feed my soul. Instead of spending my remaining years and energy trying to figure how to irrigate the far meadow, I could work on that never-quenched thirst in me.

I’ll give you some hands-down big advantages of the old life: solitude, space, view, quiet. All that, plus the smell of sage after the rain, the sight of elk grazing in a greening meadow in spring and the satisfying chill of making the first and only tracks on a bluebird powder day.

But, I was tired. Tired, I thought, of small town living–fearful of a life filled with repeating fundraisers, dinner parties, service clubs, card groups, book groups and people. I was overwhelmed and under-energized by the work it took just to keep the “ranch” afloat–though afloat is not the right word to associate with a property in high desert.

What played most in my decision to leave the ranch, however, was the gradual realization that a place built for shared retirement and visits from grandchildren was not as appealing as a place for me to live alone, as me alone.

Dogging at The Lucky Dog

Dogging at The Lucky Dog

I miss the Ranch some days.

Besides the view from the deck, I miss people who made me feel very much a part of community, even if I was living in solitary. I miss the ones who popped up in the aisles between produce and bakery and along the meat counter or in line at check-out. I miss the conversations I had with them about when it might rain, I miss their persistent pitch to buy cookie dough to support 4-H and I miss the various versions of buzz about the ornery lady with the ugly metal barn who lived down the road.

I miss the very kind neighbor who kept track of my whereabouts and made sure I made it home and had not ended up in a snow-filled ditch without cell signal when the wind blew in two feet of snow in the span of a work day. She knew there was no one at home waiting for me and that no one would notice if I did not return when I should.

But she took the time to check on me.

That kind of neighborliness can be hard to find in the city.

I still visit the Ranch now, carefully planning my visits to avoid big snow storms. I have lost the urge to irrigate the meadow to an out-of-place and unnatural green. The plow waits alone in the garage. And now more than one chair waits on the deck for visitors.

In my new life, I am not over-committed to dinner parties and service organizations and book clubs and card groups. I have the perks of convenience, amenities, urban vitality, lower gasoline costs and two granddaughters five minutes away.

Here, I don’t have a view of the stars from my bed.

But if I walk just around the corner, I see the peaks of Evans and Pikes and Longs and in only a short drive, I am in that outer crop of Rocky Mountains that hints of better things to come.

And now there is a new tent and sturdy four wheels to explore more of those mountains and see a whole new vision of stars.

The tent which will take we Lucky Dogs to new adventures.

The tent which will take we Lucky Dogs to new adventures.

Which should be interesting since it will be the first time I have camped since I was in my 20s.

This may bring new adventure for me and new fodder for Winsomebella.

All in a blog’s time……..my dear :-).

One of the nicest things that came from giving up my plow for a bicycle is the time to dig deeper and muse with words and pictures that quench and feed me.

And to share with you and you with me, in a new version of neighborliness.

Thank you for coming along—I’m really glad you do.



(P.S. I hope you’ll enjoy my occasional alerts for new postings at Through the Lens of We, like this one from yesterday: Into the Mystic.)

More Please




There is hint of it here.

A trickle of spring melt deep below the surface that promises to fill a cold mountain stream that will wind its way through the foothills, by gravity and by pipe, giving false extravagance to golf courses and to bubble baths and to the small garden of perennials that Mrs. Simpson is trying to grow just like she did back in Ohio.

Snowpack would have made these winter woods unreachable in other years.


It used to be May, or even June, before the road opened to this adventure.

The breath of thirst is sour and pungent. The shadows of trees whisper of the whims of climate and weather and warn of deep, dried lines in earth and faces come June, of rain seen above the meadow in July but which will never make it all the way to the ground, of the drip, drip, drip that leaks away in garden hoses in August and of the start, in September, of another dry winter.

These woods need a heavy drink.

An hour away in Denver on this same day, the temperature neared 70 degrees and joggers, bikers, cyclists and tennis players worked up a hefty thirst.


“I live in a high desert and I am forever thirsty.”

Terry Tempest Williams