Visiting Small Towns (a fun day away just down the road)

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We meandered through jewelry and antique stores.  We stopped for a cup of coffee.  We walked through art galleries and stared in awe at the buildings.  We walked hand-in-hand idly down the sidewalks.  We stopped and talked to a grandmother who has lived in Trinidad her whole life and listened as she recalled memories.

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They don’t build like this anymore.  The intricate details of each cornerstone and inset lettering.  The grandness of a small town.

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One can learn a lot from the art and sculptures set throughout a place.  This was a town of coal miners and of ranchers.

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Can you hear the sound of the horses pulling carriages down the Main street?  The eruptions in the saloon?  The sound of a bustling small town on a Saturday night?  Ghosts of people and activity over the past hundred and fifty years swarms by in my imagination and the sense of place captures me.

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I wonder what the street looked like when people lined up at the grand Opera house.  Or what the lights looked like as kids lined up at the movie theater on a Friday night.  The roller rink must have been great fun at the time that I used to roller skate in the 70’s and 80’s.

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There are new cafes to visit and bookstores and side streets, but alas, we started our journey down Main street too late in the day and everyone is closing up shop.

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Just like the small museums I wrote about yesterday, there are probably small towns all around you, other cities, other places a half hour, an hour, maybe an hour and a half away that hold history, and art, and a different life.  There are books to look at and coffee to sip, and elders to engage in conversation with.  There are new parks to soak up the sun in, and places to see.  Perhaps this Saturday you will head out to a new town to explore, enjoy, and get inspired.  These little day trips are good for the spirit- a change of scenery and the exploration of something new.

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A Walk Through History (visiting your local museums)

My daughter, Shyanne and her boyfriend were recalling one evening to each other memories of the family vacations of their youth.  His family takes daring, exotic vacations that sound thrilling.  They took Shyanne with them to go zip-lining in Costa Rica and they went deep sea fishing in the Florida Keys.  Shyanne described to him the streets around the Plaza and the views across New Mexico.  And the museums.  Our kids went to museums on family vacations.  Art, history, children’s, aquatic, zoos, outdoor sculpture parks.  We love them.  We seek them out.  But you don’t have to go on vacation to go to museums.

In your town or a town near you there will be hidden a gem of history, of art, of culture.  An inexpensive place to explore.  To be enriched.  To be inspired.

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I was asked to speak at the Trinidad History Museum this last weekend on indigenous plants and remedies for the opening of their exhibit, Borderlands of Southern Colorado; Remedios, Medicine and Health.  Trinidad is an hour south of us and we enjoyed seeing a new place and a new museum.

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We adore old houses.  The architecture, the story, the ghosts that live within, the décor; it all speaks to us.  We learn the history of a place, the hopes and dreams of its settlers, the story behind sepia faces in old photographs.

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We get decorating ideas.  We imagine what life would be like back then.  We walk from room to room imagining life a hundred years or two hundred years ago.  The Bloom mansion was built in 1882.  It is a spectacular home and living exhibit.

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We walked through the gardens to the adobe building that houses the gift shop and the current exhibits.  The beautiful dancers from Folklorico spun and tapped and smiled as they entertained the crowd.

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Inside, we walked past faces from the past- miners and cattlemen, Native Americans and Scots.  Artifacts, tools, Catholicism, remedies, furniture all set up in a way to help us understand and imagine life in a small western town just north of the border.  How people lived.  How people survived.  How people thrived.

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Kit Carson’s intricately embroidered coat is on display.  Documents and historical pieces that bring to life old stories and articles.  That make these images tangible and teach us about human nature and about ourselves.

The Baca house was a real treat.  It is closed for restoration but we were able to walk through and get a glimpse.  This adobe house was built in 1873 by Felipe and Dolores Baca.  They traded 22,000 pounds of wool to have it built.  That is a lot of wool!

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The affluence of the family can be felt in the details.  There is a widow’s walk, Victorian and Greek architectural additions and furniture.  Felipe died rather young and Dolores dressed in black the rest of her days there.  A love story behind the intricate details a home with cracking mud walls.

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Museums like the Trinidad History Museum on the Historic Santa Fe Trail often offer children’s programs, community events, and learning opportunities.  You can find my books and many other wonderful literary works and children’s books in the gift shop, as well as unique gifts and art.

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So, perhaps this weekend, you might seek out a nearby museum.  Walk through its gardens, its gates, its doorways.  Listen to the whispers of another time and let it change you, influence you, inspire you, educate you.

Trinidad History Museum

312 East Main Trinidad, Trinidad, CO, 81082

719-846-7217

https://www.historycolorado.org/trinidad-history-museum

Birthday Travels Through the Southwest (and the year of learning and adventure)

As adults we don’t seem to celebrate birthdays with the same festivity as when we were children, but I think all birthdays are incredibly special.  Having lost many friends at a young age, I know that each birthday is a great time to reevaluate, reground, regroup, and to be filled with gratitude.  Each lesson leading into another great discovery and memories fill the spaces in our days and lives with those we love and experiences to treasure.

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Last year was my year of bravery.  I shaved off all of my hair for my birthday.  It was freeing and light and was like the world’s burdens had been lifted off of my shoulders.  Now of course I am trying to grow out with some semblance of normalcy!

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My birthday is Sunday.  This year is my year of adventure and learning.  My farm is ready to really increase food production with experiments, new gardens, and my greenhouse.  I am registered for school in the fall.  But before everything gets really amped up, we are going on a ten day trip through New Mexico and Arizona.

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We will be staying with our dear, dear friends, Monte and Erik, whom we haven’t seen since they moved away over three years ago.  My friend from high school (26 years since I have seen her) is down there, as is one of Doug’s (30 years), and my wonderful Great-Aunt Lila.  I have never been to Arizona and I am excited to see the land and the people.  There are restaurants, parks, and museums to discover!  Sun to soak up!  Glasses of wine to clink with dear ones.  The overnights to and from Arizona in New Mexico I look forward to and always savor.  Chimayo is calling me.  So, for the next ten days I will be reporting to you from the fabulous Southwest with inspirations, ideas, and life.

 

 

 

Beautiful Pueblo

20180108_133406Our city has a bad reputation.  It has for as long as I remember growing up in Denver.  It was ranked one of the most dangerous cities to live in.  Some of the locals scratch their heads and wonder where they get their numbers from.  Some want to move to greener pastures…like California.  Because of the astonishing statistics here in Pueblo, we got a house for the price of a cardboard box in Denver.  There is an exciting revitalization going on here.  And as in most cases of any city, the crime seems to be concentrated in one area.  So, you don’t buy on the east side.  Unless you want a really cute old house for thirty thousand dollars.  Then go for it.  Because this is the city to be if you want to live in Colorado.

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One of my downfalls is that I am a homebody vagabond.  I want a home to create and decorate and garden and be cozy in but I am always looking for the next home.  The next city.  The next farm.  This drives my husband crazy.  But there are not two people on this earth more grateful for their own home than me and Doug.  So for the first time I am settling in.

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This town has everything Doug and I wanted.  And we wanted the impossible.  Can we be walking distance to Chinese food and the grocery store, a bike ride from the library and the coffee shop, live near a lake, have a view, be close to the mountains, live in a warmer climate, have an urban farm, be within practical driving distance from the kids and our work, live in a beautiful place, be near theater and fine dining but also be near farms and a quick jaunt to vacation spots?  Can we have it for next to nothing?

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$89,000 later and I need a bicycle because all of those things came to be in this small/big town of ours.  We tried to get our kids down here but the statistics still scare most folks off.  We haven’t heard of or seen anything that wouldn’t be happening in any other city.  We have found friendly folks, beautiful sunrises over lakes and hiking trails, flocks of geese, fine dining on the river, and home.  We have been here a year now.  What a lovely place to call home.

 

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A Day in Laramie, Wyoming (travels, microphones, and jail cells)

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A road trip is always a fun adventure and we were happy to be headed out on one!

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The scenery was beautiful as we drove two hours from Aurora to Wyoming.  The beautiful red dirt, ornate rock formations, and green grassy hills set against the mountains were heavenly.

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Laramie was there before we knew it.  One night at the Best Western was reserved.  We quickly dropped our things off in our rooms and headed back to the car!

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First stop was Roxie’s for lunch.  They had a terrific menu, and though a little pricey, the food was great.  Our server was from Elizabeth, knew our daughter, Shyanne, and grew up next door to Shyanne’s boyfriend, Jake.  It was definitely a small world moment!

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We walked around downtown and admired the buildings from the western 1800’s and turn of the century.

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I wonder if I will ever stop shopping for wood cook stoves.  I wonder if we will ever get a homestead again.

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We stopped in this lovely apothecary.  I love that everywhere we go more and more apothecaries are coming up.

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Next stop was the Laramie Plains Museum.

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A residence for a small family, then a boarding school for girls, this mansion is an impressive collection of period furnishings and décor.

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These wide pianos were throughout the house.

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One can tell that music was a big part of entertainment back them.

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I bet they threw some lively parties!

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So much pride and detail went into building and design.  These old houses and museums that Doug and I visit are masterpieces in art.  The quickly built, same as the next houses of today will never come close to the loveliness of even the most simple home from these time periods.

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I wonder if Bill Nye, the science guy, named himself after the real Bill Nye?

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This style was in both museums we visited yesterday.  The wall paper design ends a foot from the ceiling, a similar pattern is carried to the ceiling, and a slightly contrasting paper covers the ceiling.

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This was our lovely guide, Skylar.  She is a middle school honor student that volunteers her time to lead folks through this beautiful place.

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Built in shelves and hutches always catch my eye!

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Another wood cook stove….

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The sink is original to the house.  One could do a lot of dishes or wash a baby comfortably in this sink!

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30 pounds of butter, anyone?  I have seen butter churns but not one in a barrel form.  I thought this piece was very interesting.

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The refrigerator was a built in hutch with a screened bottom.  Ice was placed below the hutch and it kept everything in the cupboard cold.  Here, Skylar models the lined flour bins that held a hundred pounds or more of flour!

The house looks just as it did.

The house looks just as it did.

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This staircase is like the one in Santa Fe that was built without nails or supports.  It is a gorgeous staircase and one that we had to come down dramatically.

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A collection of dresses from the 1950’s boarding school era.  I wore my grandmother’s pink dress to prom that looked very similar to the green one!

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The desk is the oldest piece in the house. It is from the 1700’s.

Of course, one must have  fainting couch.

Of course, one must have fainting couch.

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This shower cost the equivalent of $10,000 but was only used twice due to the very poor water pressure!

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I love this ornate tile.

I love this ornate tile.

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Upstairs held a collection of this and that.  Old remedies, a barber chair, large paintings, and more history…

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These paintings inspire me to paint.

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The borders on them are painted.

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Skylar then took us outdoors to see a very old schoolhouse that was moved to the property.

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This is a painting of what it looked like in its original place.

This is a painting of what it looked like in its original place.

Then I am afraid we went behind bars…

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We went and toured the Territorial Prison where the likes of Butch Cassidy spent time.

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This was the law enforcer’s office.

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The large kitchen that fed the inmates was light and beautiful.

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Doug inquiring on rental rates.

Doug inquiring on rental rates.

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Minnie’s story struck me as quite sad.  A young woman and her husband were ambushed and framed for murder by their neighbor who wanted their land.  She spent five years in prison, and her husband was there for ten years.  All because of a horrible neighbor!

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This young man’s story struck me as well for how young he looks.  He was twenty-one and was caught forging a check.  Was his family hungry?  Was he an outlaw?  He was released after three years.

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The prison was restored but the ghosts of the past still wander the halls.

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Outside our car awaited…

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But we couldn’t find our horses.

It was then that Doug and Rodney joined up with a local gang.

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We ended the action filled day with karaoke and went to bed rather late!

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Now, off to Salt Lake City….