Go West, Young Man …


It struck me this morning that I have been living in the West for almost ten years now, and I haven’t written anything much about anything Western. Today I will begin to catch up.

As exasperating and politically disadvantaged as some of my co-Paradisians are, they are the rightful heirs to one of America’s most enduring myths, that of the cowboy. There is no possibility of my counting how many books and magazines I have read, how many movies I have attended, how many photographs I have been enthralled by, that dealt with the American West.

That lore is part of my DNA, even though I was thirty years old before I saw my first mountain up front and personal. Older than that when I first walked in a desert. Last year when Robin and I drove through Monument Valley in Arizona, I realized that in my mind I had been to this exact place, seen those gorgeous buttes and that red sandstone so many times. It was déja vu without any mystery as to why I felt that way.

One of my personal favorites in the western songbook has always been The Colorado Trail. It has straightforward lyrics and just the right amount of mournful in it.

The Colorado Trail is a traditional American cowboy song, collected and published in 1927 by Carl Sandburg in his American Songbag. Sandburg says that he learned the song from Dr. T. L. Chapman, of Duluth, Minnesota, who heard it from a badly injured cowboy being treated in his hospital. The cowboy sang it, and many others, to an audience of patients in his ward.

The trail in the song was a cattle route that branched off from the main Western Trail in southern Oklahoma, heading northwest to Colorado. It has no relation to today’s Colorado Trail, which is a hiking trail completely within the state of Colorado.

The song got its widest attention from its 1960 recording by The Kingston Trio. It has also been recorded by Burl Ives, The Weavers, the Norman Luboff Choir, Tex Ritter, Johnny Cash, the Bar D Wranglers, and many others. The American Songbag version included only a single short verse; most who have recorded it since have added verses of their own.

Members of the Western Writers of America  chose it as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.

Wikipedia: The Colorado Trail (Song)
The Colorado Trail, by Sand Sheff



A get well piece for our friend Sarah C., by Aaron Copland.

Leonard Bernstein, from Appalachian Spring


An interesting hobby for anyone living in the West is observing the facial hair of the local men. Styles range from commonplace to fanciful, and excite no comment from passersby, since they are only a normal part of the landscape. My own personal observations are that if you have the variety seen here in the top center position, you are likely to have a MAGA cap in your wardrobe somewhere.


Colorado Song, by the Ozark Mountain Daredevils


Monday night and a sputtering of snow. Not enough to get a cat wet.



Now there is a new meaning for the word “Googled.” Once upon a time it signified that one had done an internet search using that product. Now it means being fired by email. Here’s an interesting article about the day when 12,000 employees were fired in this manner. I’ll bet there wasn’t a single LOL in any of those messages.

Sounds to me like the bean-counters are taking over the ship. Next thing will probably be the end of free searches. Even is it’s only a nickel at a time, it would add up. A nickel here … a nickel there …

I have no idea how many searches I do in a given day, but it is a bunch. I may have to return to Netscape, Webcrawler, Excite, Lycos, AltaVista, Yahoo, or Ask Jeeves, if any of them are still around. We used all of these search engines in those dim dark days before Google came along.

In fact, one of my metaphors for the aging process is that one’s brain function transitions ever so slowly from Google back to Webcrawler. You eventually get the answer, it just takes longer.


A few blades of grass are greener than they were last week. They are not wise blades, however, because the temperature still dips below the freezing point every night. Gotta give ’em credit for fortitude, though. Our weather is stuck in the 40s in the daytime, 20s at night zone. Hasn’t budged in nearly three weeks now, but each week I check the tire pressures and battery levels on our e-bikes, just in case a glorious day should blossom.

Some of my neighbors have been bicycling for weeks now. They basically put on standard Eskimo garb and climb aboard. None of them are smiling as they pedal by, however, with their lips drawn into tight lines against that chilly breeze in their faces. It does give them something to brag about, though, even if the rest of us couldn’t care less about how many days in February they were riding. It’s just not a number that inspires sparkling conversation.

Electric bicycles are continuing to increase in popularity, as they have moved from curiosity to common usage. It is interesting to watch all of the experimentation going on in that industry, as one company you never heard of after another puts out their version of what they think an e-bike should look like.

The really interesting part, though, is in the varying approaches to function. How many miles per charge, how much power, how fast should they go, where to put the motor, etc. etc. I haven’t put any photos here, but there is a whole section of the genre that has off-road capabilities, with larger tires and sturdier frames. Some of them actually have two motors, front and rear, to enable some herculean climbing out there in the bush.

The pic below is of the Thunder X-treme, a bike with a 5000 watt motor (most ebikes have 250-500 watt motors), a 200 mile range, and a top speed of 46 mph. If you are a senior citizen and buy this thing, the company thoughtfully supplies a small frame-mounted pouch to contain your will and instructions for the EMTs who find your Humpty-Dumptied body back on those rocky mountain trails. They even provide a small “license plate” to mount behind the seat that says Do Not Resuscitate, just in case.


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