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2433 words



Strange goings on at Wanderin’ Star 2001



Episode One--Phantom Cows



One evening while eating dinner I looked out the window and saw about 30 head of cows and calves walking down the road. I assumed someone was moving them from one pasture to another.  However, I saw no one leading them or following them.  They stopped near my driveway and started munching grass. I didn’t think much about it because I have an old wooden cattle guard at the end of the driveway.

That night I awoke after having dreams that animals were inside the house.  Sometimes my imagination gets away like that, and usually I can think about it calmly and go back to sleep, which I did.  Awhile later I had the same feeling, so to indulge myself, I got up and did the bathroom and drink thing.  Went back to bed.  Soon, here came the feeling again. 

By then I was frustrated, it was 3:30 in the morning and I decided to go ahead and get up and work on my story.  As I was getting another drink, I saw something moving outside.  I looked closer and realized the cowshad gotten in my yard.  SO!  My instincts were not so far off!
Later, when the sun started to come up, I looked out the front window and saw that half of them were in my pasture which is fenced separately from the rest.  The others were on the driveway

side.  The only way I could think of how they got in the pasture was through a man-sized walk gate that was open.

I decided to call Trudy to tell her about them, but decided it was too early.  So, as I was eating breakfast, they all disappeared!  I was beginning to think I was hallucinating.  Finally, I put on my shoes and walked clear down to the road and could not see any cows at all.  But there were droppings and tracks in the driveway--so I knew they had been there.

I called Trudy and as we were talking, the ones in the pasture appeared again!  Then they disappeared.  PHANTOM COWS!  I finally realized they were walking up and down the fence trying to join the ones who had left. 

When they were down in one corner, the hill is steep enough that I could not see them.  I finally let them out to join their buddies.

A few days later they were back.  I decided to close the driveway gate to eliminate any further animal dreams.



Episode Two--The Grunt

I have been walking each morning and following the roads around here.  I am curious where they go and who lives on them.  Obviously I keep getting farther from the cabin each trip.  I have passed Silver Spruce Circle a couple of times, so decided it was time to walk it.  Circle means it comes back to its starting point, right? 

I walked for quite awhile and was getting tired and thirsty.  Usually I wear hiking boots, take water and my hunting knife.  This morning I was wearing tennis shoes, had no water and no knife.  The road started going down into a canyon, so I decided I had gone far enough and headed back.  Since I was so tired, I did not want to go clear back the way I had come. I decided to head through the woods in the general direction of the cabin.

My tennis shoes kept slipping on pine needles and I was a little bit concerned about snakes, bears and mountain lions.  But I kept plugging away.  had to cross THREE ridges before I found one that looked familiar.  I had not realized I had gone so far.  As I was crossing the last ridge I heard a grunt a little behind me and about 200 yards off to the left--directly downwind from me.  It sounded a little like a bullfrog, but just one grunt.  A few minutes later I heard it again in the same relative position.  That repeated about 10 times all the way back.  I don’t know whether something was shadowing me downwind, or whether it was my imagination.  I have not been walking since!


Episode Three--The Storm

I do a lot of sitting on my front porch. Sometimes, being a workaholic, I feel guilty and think that I should be doing something worthwhile.  But, if I intend to teach a few more years, the most worthwhile thing I can do is

renew my spirit.  It gets badly damaged during the school year. So, I sit, watch the amazing sight of rugged hills running off to endless high plains.  My view of the high plains is blocked by the squared off tables of Fisher’s Peak near Trinidad.  So far I have not tired of the view and enjoy the changing weather and lighting conditions.

It has not rained in a long time.  It started raining, so I sat on the porch to watch it.  The rain almost stopped and a large opening appeared in the clouds.  I could peer up into the bright sunshine and see the trailing edge of a huge alto cumulus cloud. 

Then I heard a strange, steady drumming sound. It was coming from the Northwest and gradually increasing.  I kept looking that way, but could not tell what was making the sound.  It started hailing, then increased and lasted about 10-15 minutes.  Then I could hear the drumming sound pass slowly into the distance as the shaft of sunlight moved East.  I could still hear the drumming of the hail on the trees, rocks and hard ground for a good half hour as it moved away.
I have never heard a hailstorm approaching like that!  It was absolutely fascinating!

Episode Four--The Fish
This is not a big deal, but it seemed a little strange to me.  I finally got to go fishing a few times.  I decided to try the Purgatoire River as it empties into Trinidad Lake.  The river is still high from snowmelt, and the lake is drawn way down because of the lawsuit won by Kansas to make sure there is water in the Arkansas river by the time it reaches Kansas.  All the reservoirs and irrigation wells in eastern Colorado have been drawn down a lot to accommodate that.
The banks of the river kept falling off in chunks into the flood.  I could stand there and watch chunk after chunk falling into the water.  I dared not approach close enough to fish because I would wind up in the

drink.  The river is not very deep, matter of fact, some places it is so shallow it barely covered my shoe soles!  But I kept fishing. 

I saw no fish, and there were very few bugs under the rocks.  I don’t know whether the stream is too polluted, too shallow, whatever.  Finally I found a larva and tied on a pattern exactly like it.  At one point I thought I felt something on the line, so I set the hook.  A tiny, two-inch minnow had taken my imitation.  When I set the hook he came flying over my head!  That was my only catch in the river itself.

I gave up and set up my spinning gear and fished the lake.  It was very windy--as it seems to be a lot around here--but I was getting some good casts.  I had a couple of strikes, and finally changed lures often

enough to find something they would hit hard enough to hook them. 

I caught one and pulled it in.  It had a dark green back and silvery sides with a very faint, thin pink line down the side.  I guess it was a rainbow trout, but it didn’t really have the markings I expected.  The lake has a green tint--probably from sulphur--so I guess that explains the green back.  I caught another just like it.  They might have been Kokanee Salmon.  I have not seen one of those for many years--since I was a teenager.  But

I still don’t know.


Episode Five--Sleepy Driving
I went to play golf at Trinidad Municipal course.  It was pretty nice, much better than I expected.  I was very tired from another night with little sleep.  I ate lunch in Trinidad then headed back to the cabin.  That is a 25 mile drive and the last 10 is on dirt road.  Some of the curves in the canyon are pretty sharp, and usually I am very careful.
I was driving along half asleep, actually thinking about what a cop would think if he pulled me over.  He would probably think I was drunk, when really I was just tired.  I was in third gear and driving only 35 when I rounded one of the tight curves.  I guess because I wasn’t paying attention, my front tires got in softer dirt and the rear ones started sliding out.
I always pride myself on emergency handling in almost any situation.  I always know what to do and when to do it.  This time I was caught off guard and overreacted.  That made the rear wheels go into the little ditch on the inside of the curve.  I over corrected again, and they slid out.  Finally I got my reactions down to the little bit I needed and gradually drove back onto the regular surface. 
It really wasn’t a big deal, but if another vehicle would have been coming, we probably would have had a wreck.  It made me mad at myself for driving so tired and not paying attention.
I have to go back to Lenexa tomorrow to pick up Trudy and Shooba.  Because of the incident today, I am a little leary of that.  It is a LONG drive by myself and I dread it.

Episode Six--The Ditch
I had to go back to Lenexa to pick up Trudy and Shooba.  Several years ago I cut out an article about petroglyph sites in southern Colorado.  I had wanted to stop to see them, but knew it would be a struggle to find time when traveling.  I decided to leave early in the morning on my way back to Lenexa and stop by these sites to take pictures. 
Vogel Canyon is south of LaJunta.  It took me about half an hour to find it, then I had to hike a mile or so to the canyon.  It was a real disappointment because people have defaced everything with their own grafitti.  I could see virtually nothing of the original petroglyphs. I almost decided to skip the other site, but finally decided to go to it anyway.   
Hicklin Springs is at John Martin Reservoir.  It is way out in the country and requires 4wheel drive to get to it.  I thought it might be better preserved because of that.  I found it okay and it indeed has “a staggering sequence of petroglyphs” as the article said.  The only problem was that the rocks were overgrown with brush and especially chest high poison ivy.  I looked at some of them from a distance and took some pictures.  If a person went prepared, long pants, boots, long sleeved shirt, and some way to clear the poison ivy without getting the oil on you, you could spend a day there exploring all the rocks.  I have never seen so many petroglyphs in one place in my life.
Driving back out I was in 4wheel drive and going about 10 miles per hour.  There were two driving tracks side-by-side.  I had taken one on the way in and it was deeply rutted. So I took the other on the way out.  Just before I reached the road I noticed that my water jug had tipped over.  I took my eyes off the road for one second to stand it back up.  At that instant I hit a ditch that cut across the road.  The front end of the car went straight
down, then immediately back up, then the back wheels hit and did the same thing.  Everything in the back end came flying up to the front seat as if someone was back there throwing things at me.
I got out to make sure I had broken nothing, everything seemed all right, so I went on.  It is just unbelievable what can happen in an instant of inattentiveness!

Episode Seven--The Watch
I lost my watch.  It is a very nice LL Bean watch designed especially for sportsmen, but nice enough to look like a dress watch.  One exactly like it was stolen from my tent the last time I fished “The Canyon”.  I left it in my tent so it would not get hurt if I fell down on a rock, or something.  Real smart!  Let some thief steal it out of your tent!
Anyway, Trudy was kind enough to buy another one as a replacement, and now it was missing.  It is hard to lose something in a two room house in which I am the only resident.  I rarely wear the watch in the summertime--what need do I have to know the time?  But I remembered wearing it on a trip to WalMart specifically to buy a new watchband.  I also bought a couple of pair of shorts that I like to wear when I get up in the morning.
I could trace back to the day I returned from the store and put the watch and the new shorts on top of my small dresser.  I looked in all the drawers, pockets of pants, the 4Runner, everyplace I could think of.  I was quite sure I had not left it on some store counter--but then, just a few days earlier I had hung the floor mats from the 4Runner in a car wash and driven off and left them there.  So, anything is possible in my confused mental condition.
After a week and a half of looking for the watch I had almost given up.  The day before I was to leave to go back to Lenexa for Trudy and Shooba, I stood in the bedroom and said out loud, “I want to know where my watch is. And I want to know right now!” With that I leaned down to start picking up clothes from the closet floor.  The first thing I picked up was the new pair of shorts.  The new watch band is velcro and had stuck to the shorts.
I said, out loud, “Okay.  Thank You!”
Isn’t that weird?