We interrupt the Oregon epic, to fast forward to our latest adventure. Pioneer Days in Manassa, Colorado. Summer is an event in Colorado. While other areas of the west experience mild temperatures year round, maybe just a hint of winter now and then, Colorado has a more Midwestern experience of early freezes and late thaws. With most of the state above 4500 feet, the non-winter months can be filled with 4-season days of 80 degree sunshine followed by wind and rain, then hail and then sunshine again. July frequently brings hail and lots of rain and snow bring lots of mosquitos. So Coloradans tend to make the most of summer while it’s here.
Small towns host carnivals, parades and founders day celebrations. There are lots of outdoor concerts and rodeos. Outdoor activities abound.
We try to make it out to some of these events. Sometimes it’s difficult because it would be too much stress on the abuelo. Once in awhile we can get someone to come in and stay with him for a few hours so we can get out and do something different. Recently we were able to make it for a day of the Manassah Pioneer Days. The 2 mile parade route through town was already completely lined with spectators when we got there. Horses and floats were lining up at the start. We strolled main street greeting friends, relatives and neighbors. Young boys wheeled coolers of ice cold sodas up and down the street, kind of a mobile “lemonade” stand. We stopped at the park and found a good place to sit, stand and enjoy the parade.
Manassa’s origins are primarily Mormon, though there are many Native Americans and Hispanics in the area. Several of the entries in the parade were traditionally dressed Mormons pulling hand carts and driving horse-drawn wagons. I marveled at the creativity and skill displayed in many of the floats. Really, this is a small town in the middle of nowhere (aka, San Luis Valley) nearly 100 miles and a mountain range away from Denver or any other big city, yet the floats could have easily been in a much larger, more competitive parade.
Minions, of course, are dominating the world this summer.
My favorite was the dragon ship.
We also enjoyed Olaf and, of course,
the lovely Pioneer Princess and her court.
Naturally, in this farming and ranching community, there were plenty of horses prancing through town. My only disappointment was the lack of music and the arts. There was no marching band, no drill team, not even a drum corps. Ah well, I guess that is a testament to the sad state of where our school dollars go. Even at our home base in Arizona, there is no high school band, no drill team, no drama department or glee club.
What small town parade would be complete without candy thrown from many of the entrants? We are used to seeing it come from the police and fire trucks, but in Manassa it was mostly the local businesses and politicians who contributed to the local dental practice. I was pleased to see at least half a dozen businesses tossing icy water bottles to grateful spectators. This was new to me, and a welcome change, though we did have our own water.
After the parade, we wandered through the midway. Being on the road frequently, we have played leap frog down the highways with several carnival companies. Like rvers, they experience challenges along the road, but by traveling in numbers, they seem to handle them well. I was happy to see them set up and bringing some fun to an otherwise sleepy little community. Though we did not partake of the rides or the fair food on this particular day, we did buy the boy a snow cone and it was nice to know that these small companies are bringing joy to small communities across the U.S.
Sangre de Christo Mts. Colorado
Change of plans. My son’s grandma is dying. Quickly. We are finishing out the winter in Colorado, after all. Minimizing our life into a 28 ft. RV and a 14 ft. vintage trailer has given us the freedom to be able to be here with her and grandpa. Slow travel means we can stay here as long as needed and postpone our planned trip to Texas until fall or whenever. Our income does not depend on us being in a certain place at a certain time.
Yak and ma at Gator Farm
Homeschooling/roadschooling means Yak is not tied to someone else’s schedule or agenda. He does his assignments when he chooses, as long as he gets them done. If he doesn’t, he knows he will be doing them before anything else, the next day. This frees him up to explore the grandparents’ homestead and visit with his aunts, uncles, cousins and older brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, as they filter in and out, paying their last visits to grandma. Now that the weather is warming up, we are also able to explore more of the local area – field trips for Yak; caregiver breaks for his dad. Who would ever look for sand dunes (Great SandDunes National Park) or an alligator farm (Colorado Gators) in the Rocky Mountain State?
Yak and pa at Sand Dunes
Slow travel allows us to find community in the local Catholic Church. The ladies of the Catholic Mothers Society come over to pray the rosary with the grands a couple of days a week. This gives them great joy. To see the smile on grandpa’s face with his family and friends praying around him, the peace in grandma’s eyes and her joy at having her friends come to see her is a great relief to the brothers and sisters who are staying on to care for their parents. The parish priest sends Holy Eucharist home for the grands with whichever son or daughter makes it to 8a.m. Mass; sometimes he brings it in person.
Pretty Ms. Susie, soaking up the sun
Not having to confine our travels to 2 or 3 weeks out of the year and the odd weekend, we don’t have the stress of trying to see everything as fast as we can. Living tiny forces us to reduce the clutter in our lives. Cooking and cleaning are done quickly. There is more time to play music, walk the dogs, and laugh at the cat trying to catch the laser pointer. With no set time for getting up or going to bed, we can stay up late to stargaze and sleep in the next day. Or we can get up to enjoy the sunrise and get back in our jammies right after supper.
We are most blessed to be able to be available to our families when they need us.
Weeks of repairs, packing, repacking, driving, caregiving and settling in to a new routine will wear anyone down.. We decided it was time for a day trip. So we piggy-backed a little bit of fun onto a trip to pick up the central heating unit for the RV from the awesome repair lady, Debra at Holiday RV in South Fork, Colorado.
About 60 miles away from our current home base is the town of Del Norte, Colorado. It was early enough that we took the scenic route on the way, picking up State Highway 15 and winding through farms, ranches, homesteads, and the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge, nestled at the base of the Sangre de Christo and San Juan Mountains. The road turned to dirt for a few miles, but we traversed it with ease, as the lack of recent snow and the abundance of sun had dried it out nicely. Around Monte Vista, we picked up Highway 160 and took that the rest of the way to Del Norte. We passed some huge cattle ranches and one charming group of horses, sharing their feeder with a very fat little burro.
We had several targets on our list. The first – a dairy farm where I hoped to get some raw milk, looked deserted, so we passed on. Our next stop made the whole trip worthwhile. Colorado, strangely, considering the amount of farms here, has a dearth of organic products in the grocery stores. Big cities like Denver, Colorado Springs and Fort Collins have their Sprouts and Whole foods markets, but the nearest to us is 120 miles away in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In spring, there might be local produce stands, but until then? I’ve been soaking and scrubbing the produce in a vinegar solution and eating oatmeal.
So The Organic Peddler was a great find! I was delighted with the large selection of organic coffees, teas, spices and fresh produce. I was hoping for more bulk grains, as I have not had my fresh, homemade bread for awhile. I’ll call ahead, when I get ready to tackle baking in the RV or trailer oven, and make sure I can get enough flour for a couple months. The savory aromas wafting in from the attached cafe were so inviting that we had to go in and have a little lunch. Besides, it was a warm escape from the 20 degree temps outside.
The Peace of Art Cafe, built with cordwood and recycled bottles, serves a tasty portobello burger, homemade shakes and custom burritos, all made with organic, local ingredients when possible. Entrees range from $5.95 to $11.95 and an Espresso Bar and Juice and Smoothie Bar are also on site. There is so much more to The Organic Peddler that I have to recommend their website. Dine outdoors in the summer, then take a liesurely stroll along the dog walk/sanctuary by a small creek. The Great Divide Bicycle Route also passes by here.
Last on our list, was to check out the honey farm. Haefeli’s Honey has a large store right downtown in Del Norte. Run by 5th generation beekeepers, I found their prices to be quite competitive, the availability of raw honey, a definite plus. Bee pollen, which I take regularly for its “bee” vitamins, is also available for a decent price. I found the price of their beeswax to be fair, as it is already cleaned (I currently clean my own).
The result of our outing was a renewed sense of calm, a day of fun and found organic and raw honey resources. The change of scenery was pretty nice, too.
Our personal ice rink and ski trails
We finally made it to our first stop on the road. We have been celebrating the holidays with the grandparents in Colorado. There have been challenges with the RV plumbing and heating since the man of the place arrived here over 2 months ago. The plumbing is now repaired and hooked up to the water line and sewer dump. The central heat remains out of order. Not to fear, 2 small electric heaters are keeping us nice and toasty.
barn cat in training
Now my trailer adventure begins. My propane heater is not working, so I intended to rely on electricity. However, with the RV already drawing quite a bit of electricity from the hookup, the addition of my plug blew the breaker. My trailer was frozen solid! As the man of the place worked to install a new breaker and an additional RV hookup, I was/am helping care for the grands, skiing and ice skating on the frozen river with Yak and organizing our stuff inside the trailer, as repairs took longer than expected and I didn’t have time to do it before we left. God has mercy, though. We were all warm and cozy in the grands guest room over Christmas and by New Year’s Eve, Yak and I were sleeping in the RV and coming in to help with the grands during the day. A small electric heater is keeping the trailer thawed and up to about 50 degrees – a bit too chilly for sleeping.
Fortunately, the sun has warmed us up to the upper 30’s the last few days, which, unfortunately, melted the snow too much for skiing and the ice too much for skating. Therefore, I don’t have any cool skating or skiing pics to post right now.
The welcome mat’s out
I am also looking forward to joining the local Catholic church choir, starting Sunday. Apparently, I will not be the only part-timer in the choir, so I will be in good company.
Ranch dog enjoying life on the road