Why the title?

"Pioneers take the arrows"

Oh, wait. I should be upbeat and taking arrows doesn't sound like an upbeat thing to say.

So, let me amend that statement.

It was courage and vision that led the pioneers to leave behind a comfortable, settled life and trek West to begin a new life in a new place. Many of those from the East that went West found a strength within themselves that they didn't see while they were in their old life. Instead of being one of those that just kind of went along with the others in the old life, they became leaders and visionaries in their new lives.

The sentiments of that last paragraph come from a favorite author, Louis L'Amour, in many of his books. So, I can't really say that it is an original thought from me. However, what he said is truthful.

Welcome to being a pioneer. Look ahead and ignore the "barking dogs" that give you negative opinions and comments. Louis L'Amour also spoke of the barking dogs.

In some of his stories, it was usually a father or older man telling a young boy how it was that when the Westward bound Conestoga wagons rolled through towns, the dogs came out to bark at them. His character then told the young listener that the barking didn't stop the wagons from going on to their destinations.

Following the advice of the Louis L'Amour characters, may we all forge ahead with our plans, after carefully considering all consequences and leave the "barkers" behind.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

So, How About a Little Camping History

As long as I can remember, our family has been camping in one form or another. My earliest memories take me back to camping for a week in Cimarron Canyon in New Mexico. That is an area between Cimarron, New Mexico and Eagle’s Nest. The area we camped is now called Cimarron Canyon State Park. At the time, camping was allowed within the canyon itself. We would pull in and set up our umbrella tent and begin a week of pure enjoyment. Nowadays, I understand that one can only camp in campgrounds at each end of the canyon.

I remember that there used to be a small “country store” in the canyon, and out behind it, someone had carved out a trough the length of a log that had fallen across the river. A stream on the hillside ran down to and across that log. As a youngster, it was so cool to watch that water come across the log and trickle off at various places along it.

I suppose we camped in that canyon every couple of years or so for about 8 or 10 years or longer. We also would go to Colorado, but up there we tended to stay with relatives unless we were going up on Grand Mesa for Dad and other relatives to go fishing. While I was never a real fanatic for fishing, I always loved being out in the forests and the mountains.

As I got older, I went camping less. After all, I had a driver’s license and an old ’54 Ford 2-door car. You know, I had altogether different priorities all of a sudden. But even then, I and some friends occasionally managed to slip over around Red River, NM for a while.

Jo and I married in December of 1968 and while we had our vacations, those didn’t involve camping in any way. Then in 1976, we took a vacation to see an Army buddy in Iowa. On our way back to Oklahoma, I told Jo that the next year we were going camping in Colorado. It had just been too long. As it turned out, we went camping that same year, but just over the Labor Day weekend.

We lived in the Oklahoma Panhandle at the time, working on her dad’s farm and ranch. My mother and a good friend were going up for that weekend and invited us. The place we went is called Purgatoire River Campground and is located West and North of Trinidad, CO. Since it was only about 4 ½ hours’ drive, we managed to get a couple of days in before we had to go back home. After that, Purgatoire became a regular place to go, with everything from tent camping to small travel trailers.

With a lot of campgrounds in Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado, I was always tempted to try some other places, but we never really got around to it. Back in the early ‘90’s, we did finally borrow Jo’s sister’s full size van (with bed in the back) and check out a lot of different campgrounds in those that area of the country. We have always liked a campground that had a lot of trees, at least the sound of a river or stream nearby, and be off the main road a ways. Purgatoire River Campground always fit that bill.

In that week of running around New Mexico and Colorado, we NEVER found another campground that had all three of the criteria that we had. So, we continued to go to Purgatoire. It is a National Forest campground, so there aren’t any hook-ups for RV’s. There are “developed” sites in that the campsites have space for campers and vehicles, plus picnic tables, fire rings, and level spaces for tents.

Then in 2009, we went to Sportsman’s Campground Northwest of Pagosa Springs and spent two weeks (instead of the normal one) with FULL hookups. Jo is now officially spoiled. However, I do have to admit, the amenities are nice. But, with our Mobile Suites being equipped with an inverter and having a Honda generator, we may still do some boon-docking on occasion.

I will relate a story, originally told to me by my mother, which occurred when I was a really small tyke. Mom and Dad had taken us on vacation somewhere in a state or national park. Wherever this place was, it had some bottomless pits or some such thing. Anyway, I wandered off somewhere and couldn’t be found.

They had Rangers and all the area campers out looking for me through the forest. When I was finally found, they asked me what I was doing. I reached into my back pocket and took out my toy rubber knife and told them that I had gone bear hunting. I think that was the beginning of my desire to get a picture of a bear in the wild and not one in a zoo.

The years from 1976 until within the last couple of years has seen me get photos of them, but they were always running away and all I got were blurs. It wasn’t until 2005 that I got my picture. We had taken a cruise and land tour to Alaska and I got my pictures while in Denali Park. I’ll have to hunt some of those pictures up and post them later.

Until then, how about a picture of some Elk from Yellowstone?


1 comment:

  1. What great adventures, thanks for sharing. I love to hear the stories.



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