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Durango Vacation Journal Part 7

Butterfly on Minnie’s Gulch, originally uploaded by Shirley Buxton.

“They’re pretty easy ones,” Berl had told us yesterday, then he described a couple of routes, and Jerry was the one that made the decision. We would go four-wheeling today, traveling out of Silverton, first on Maggie’s Gulch, then on to Minnie’s Gulch. (These links provide interesting material, along with maps and several pictures )

Although we have a Jeep, it is a Grand Cherokee, which sets lower to the ground than does a Wrangler, and besides it’s our only car, so understandably Jerry is a little cautious about taking our vehicle four-wheeling. But we’ve done it before…and we did it today…and I wish I could tell you how wonderful it is. Jerry and I engaged in our first “Jeeping” trip a few years ago and it was such fun, I wish we had taken this up when we were younger. It’s an absolute blast!

Silverton is about 45 minutes from our RV park, setting high in the San Juan Mountains at nearly 10,000 feet. We approached the town on Highway 550, called appropriately enough The Million Dollar Highway. Around a sharp bend, after a long, steep descent, off to the right, straight down it seems, is the town of Silverton. We drove slowly through the charming place (We are planning to spend one complete day in Silverton before we leave, so I’ll tell you more about the town then.) and out the other side and soon were at the sign that read, Maggie’s Gulch.

In his Jeep Rubicon, Berl led the way up the rocky trail, which immediately took a sharp ascent, Jerry and I following behind in our Cherokee which performed splendidly. People who go four-wheeling view sights that others will never see. Vistas open to reveal secrets of river, stream, lake, mountain and wild life. Remnants of those who forged new life in the wilderness areas of our country are cached within hidden valleys and meadows. Abandoned houses and mines and mills in barely accessible places speak of incredible strength, vision, and perseverance.


View Shirley Buxton’s map

Taken in (See more photos here)

At the Intersection Mill and Mine, yet stand stamps and wheels and pulleys. I am amazed that, without modern transportation devices such as we have, such structures were transported to these areas ten, eleven, twelve thousand feet in elevation. People lived, worked and died here; here where some areas receive more than 200 inches of snow annually. It’s incredible.

After we had eaten a snack, we poked around in the mine area, then LaVelta found a skull and a scattering of bones that Jerry thinks might be a wolf. Is he right, any carcass experts who may be out there? I thought it looked kind of interesting, and so that I could get a good shot, I propped the white boney head on a stone.

We could have stayed all day in Maggie’s Gulch, but there was yet Minnie’s, so we turned around, and ran the descent. Minnie was a short distance away, and after a break we turned upward again toward Minnie’s Gulch. It was a spectacular drive, Minnie Creek lies far below on the valley floor, and there are numerous Aspens on this trail. A few leaves had lit their spectacular golden lights, and they glittered now in autumn’s breeze. It was at our first stop at the Caledonia Mill foundations that LaVelta and I spied a beautiful butterfly–whose portrait you see at the top of this page.

LaVelta’s nickname is Dovie. Take a close look and you will see this is her cabin. It was so funny. There is furniture in this house, table, chairs, broom, floral paper on the walls, a ladder and a loft. We were intrigued as we poked around, where long ago, someone had a regular ordinary life. A family probably reared children there, and cooked and read and dreamed.

Further down the road from the mine was a two-story fairly well preserved building, that we learned had been a boarding house. Across the road and down a bit was the superintendent’s house. It is in a state of near-collapse, but one part appears strong and invincible. We looked through a window opening and saw a large metal safe–about the size of a refrigerator–and concluded he must have stored some of the silver in there. The outside wall up against the safe is cemented over to secure the heavy piece.

Once Berl stopped his car, and I looked ahead. “I think there’s a bird in the road, Jerry.” But when I looked again I did not see it, then suddenly I saw a huge wing fling up out of the grass at the road’s edge. I moved from the car and walked quietly down the road for I could see Berl was standing out with his camera, and I did not want to frighten away the bird. But he motioned me on, and together we looked and saw a large bird–probably a hawk– who lay wounded in the grass. We both took pictures but didn’t stay long. “He was in the road drinking water,” Berl said, “then he staggered over here. We need to be sure we don’t drive him from the water.”

Jerry and Berl had discussed the possibility of meeting a car coming the opposite direction. The roads are only one lane, and there are sheer drop-offs–hundreds of feet down to the valley floor. No protective rails, of course. Well, it happened. We met a large pick-up truck, and it took some maneuvering. The truck was coming up and had the right of way. Both Berl and Jerry had to drive high onto the mountain side, and the driver of the truck was literally on the cliff-side edge. Our mirrors barely cleared as he passed, and he grinned and spoke, “Little skinny here, isn’t it?”

And then we were down, having traveled to an altitude of 11,500 this afternoon. We trekked back into Silverton, parked in front of Brown Bear Cafe, and had dinner. They tell me the building is more than 100 years old. As we returned to Durango, a doe stood quietly at the edge of 550, perhaps a mate to the young buck I had seen in the morning. She eyed me as we passed.


My devotional is here.


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Sensational Parenting Notes

The world today is replete with distinctive news of parents. In England, of course, was the touching anniversary memorial service for Princess Diana, where her younger son euologized her as “the best mother in the world.”

LONDON — Princess Diana’s family solemnly marked the 10th anniversary of her death Friday, with her younger son eulogizing her as “the best mother in the world.”

The bishop of London used his sermon at a memorial service to call for an end to the sniping between Diana’s fans and detractors, and a priest who has led an annual remembrance said it may now be time to let go.

“To lose a parent so suddenly at such a young age, as others have experienced, is indescribably shocking and sad,” Prince Harry said at the memorial service at the Guards’ Chapel near Buckingham Palace.

“It was an event which changed our lives forever, as it must have done for everyone who lost someone that night,” said Harry, who was 12 when Diana died.


Then there’s this Associated Press story from Alaska.

FAIRBANKS, Alaska — A father who was too drunk to drive had his 11-year-old son drive him home, police in Fairbanks, Alaska, said.

Police stopped the boy late Tuesday after he was seen driving the wrong way on a one-way street in his father’s 1992 Chevy pick-up truck.

The boy’s father, Frank Neff, 35, of Fairbanks, was too drunk to drive and had told the child to drive them home, authorities said.

Neff pleaded no contest to charges of reckless endangerment and contributing to the delinquency of a minor in connection with the incident. He was ordered to spend 15 days in jail and to take parenting classes.

He told police he’s been teaching his son to drive since he was 8 years old.


This one tops them all.

Holly Schnobrich

Mother-of-two Holly Schnobrich knew she was too drunk to get behind the wheel of her car.

But her judgment was so clouded by drink and drugs that she asked her five-year-old son to be the designated driver.

After her 2002 Mitsubishi screeched to a halt outside her house, Miss Schnobrich even boasted to a worried neighbour: “He’s a good driver.”

But when five-year-old Weston Schnobrich was quizzed by police he was forced to admit he was “having a hard time because I can’t reach the pedals”.

The 24-year-old mother is now behind bars in Lafayette, Indiana, charged with child endangerment and public intoxication.


My devotional blog is here.


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Sure, She’s Blind. Sure, She Hit a Hole-In-One.

Golf Digest say the chances of an amateur ever hitting a hole-in-one are 12,750 to 1. Yet, here is this astounding woman, blind, yet, for 26 years, defying unthinkable odds, and with her driver smacking that golf ball directly into the cup…with one stroke.

EHIGHTON, Pa. — Sheila Drummond didn’t need to see her hole-in-one. She heard it.

Drummond, blinded by diabetes 26 years ago, experienced the highlight of her golfing career Sunday, recording an ace on the 144-yard, par-3 fourth hole at Mahoning Valley Country Club.

Playing with her husband and coach, Keith, and two friends in a steady rain, the 53-year-old Drummond hit a driver on the hole. The shot cleared a water hazard, flew between traps and landed on the green, where it hit the flagstick before dropping into the hole.

“They were saying, ‘It’s a great shot,’ and then I heard it hit the pin,” Drummond said.

“For a hole-in-one, you have to hit it onto the green, so it’s a little bit of skill and a lot of luck.”

entire story is here.

What a truly admirable woman. No whining, no excuses. I express to her my esteem and sincere congratulations.


My devotional blog is here.

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Loren Hedger is Dead

A text message on my phone yesterday gave me this information.

Chances are you have never heard of Loren Hedger, although he lived a long and rich life. I met him in September of 1955 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where I had enrolled as a student at Apostolic College. I was young. Tender young, for to be exact, I had graduated from high school in May, and had just turned 17 in July.

He was a minister of the gospel, and was one of my instructors. Now, these more than 50 years later, I vividly recall his appearance, his concepts, and most importantly his godly ways. Through the years, Jerry and I have had some contact with him, and in Tulsa, some time ago before his beloved wife, Gladys, succumbed to cancer, we visited again with him–spent several hours talking, reminiscing, and sharing a delightful meal.

Loren Hedger was a handsome man, tall and dark-haired with a readily available smile. His demeanor was soft and tender, but one should not have been fooled by that, for, inwardly he was strong, principled and incorruptible.

Loren came out of such a church denomination as did Martin Luther, and immediately he set to studying the Bible–closely, intently, with a grasping mind and with fervor. During the early days following his conversion, as he was yet holding a secular job, he was so hungry for God and for an understanding of Him that he spent many long nights with God’s Word. Vividly, do I recall his telling of becoming so sleepy, and yet so passionate about his study, that, to help keep him wakeful and stimulated, he would prepare a pan of icy-cold water and place his bare feet there.

This godly passion was apparent in any dealings with this superior man. I would not be surprised to learn that such intense love for God’s Word was transferred to scores of young people who were privileged to “sit at the feet” of Loren Hedger.

I’m using this space today, not only to honor Loren Hedger, but to acknowledge those people who have contributed both to my secular education and to my understanding of The Spirit. I especially want to honor those who, with passion, have told me of life, of God and His principles. I’d like to hear from you also. Is there a teacher or two who has profoundly affected your life? Would you like to name them and give them honor?


My devotional blog is here.

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Gigantic Show of Gratitude from France

This is one of those stories whose hearing arouses an exceptional surge of enthusiasm and gratifying goodwill. It hurls high the day, elevating the moment to a superior plane of insight and value. It speaks of brotherhood and kinship and sets aglow the human heart. For the hour, we lay aside disagreements and disappointments, political slants and personal and national agenda.

“The French Will Never Forget” organized an extraordinary gathering of approximately 2500 people in Omaha Beach, Normandy for July 4 th 2007. The crowd formed on the sand the letters of the phrase: “FRANCE WILL NEVER FORGET”, aimed at honoring the fallen American heroes who scarified (sacrificed) their lives to liberate France at the end of WW II.

The Embassy of France has posted stunning pictures and a great deal of information here. I give honor to these people who in such a magnificent way have expressed their gratitude to the United States of America, and who have so honored those who fell in battle in order to liberate France at the end of World War II.


My devotional blog is here.