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Saturday, May 30, 2015

A Confession...


I don't always wake up with my gas pedal floored or possess multi-espresso energy. There are times, I open my eyes with nil to low potential activity levels. On these rare days, I push myself out of Barley's door and still do something. I know I'm well into the fourth quarter of my life; I won't waste days.

So...feeling kind of wimpy, a trail with two waterfalls caught my attention. It was also unknown territory to me. "No Thoroughfare Canyon," in Colorado National Monument sounded about right. 

WOW! Was I impressed! The waterfalls were really what the name implies, even for a water challenged state like Colorado. (Remember, our liquid flows away from our borders and doesn't stick around much.) 
If that weren't enough, I scored hiking companions. There was me and my shadow, a collared lizard, a yellow flittering butterfly and a pair of red-splotchy frogs. 

I'm so glad I extricated myself out of the driver's seat and wasn't a sloth.

PS. This was the first day in Colorado's month of May from Iceland that felt like impending summer. 
 I hope it continues.

From Welcome To Fruita or as the bumper stickers say "WTF"

Good morning,
Jeff
For more about Colorado National Monument please check out

http://jeffsambur.blogspot.com/2014/10/colorado-national-monument.html


Friday, May 29, 2015

Play Ball!

Junior College World Series...

At Grand Junction, Colorado is an All-American event. I would place it up their with Mom, apple pie and of course, baseball. There's even All-American families equipped with tykes running amok on candy/ice cream sugar highs. Take a seat where the old codgers (like me) do if you don't want to get distracted from the action on the field. 

It's  a well kept Grand Valley secret despite being an annual occurrence here since 1958. 

I've been attending JUCO WS since 2008. I owe a watershed of thanks to Jack and Judy Miller for opening my eyes to it. They've been incredibly generous about sharing their home and beer drinking companionship with me through the years. Thanks folks! 

Without a doubt, this is one of my favorite weeks of the year. I really look forward to it. 

I get to hike (and even bike) in the Colorado National Monument in the morning. Catch a baseball game in the afternoon and still have time for dinner and Happy Hour in the evening. 
Each day, I repeat the sequence. It sure beats working. 

This year's tournament featured fickle weather as dicey and unsettling as mayonnaise-laden egg salad left outside on a summer's day. At least the mornings were sunny and mild.

Check this event out before ESPN and the ticket scalpers discover it. 

Come on Summer!
Jeff

Photo One: Judy and me enjoying a game.
Photo Two: Independence Rock in the Monument.
Photo Three: A rare photo of me on a bicycle. It's hard to believe I used to be good at riding one. 
Photo Four: Action at the ballpark. 




Monday, May 25, 2015

Memories of a Vet...

and a friend. 

A few months ago, George Holloway left us. This 83 year old mensch was a veteran, a keen observer of human nature, and one wiseman who truly thought outside the box.

He was funny, entertaining and taught me to always look at a situation from another (sometimes odd) angle. He was a honcho in our Veterans Administration. I'm sure he performed his duties there with a watchful eye for doing the right thing for our retired military personnel. He was an all around good guy.

My fondest memory of George was bicycling the RAGBRAI with him. For those who do not know, the RAGBRAI is the two-wheeled fraternity/sorority party which crosses the state and the corn fields of Iowa. 

Every ten miles or so, the ride passes through another clean, All American town. It's not Utah so there's bars along the route. We would stop, pull out our folding camp chairs, sit down and watch the show roll by. Of course, we had a can of Bud in our paws while doing so. We wouldn't say a word, just nudge each other if there was something or somebody worth noticing. When the beers were drained, we regained our bikes and proceeded on.

We rode side by side. Whenever George started a sentence with, "Did you ever notice..." I would listen up and pay attention. There was something profound and truthful coming my way. When he finished explaining his observation to me, I would think two things.

One) That makes sense.
Two) Why haven't I ever thought of that?

George, thanks for all you taught me through the years. I still use many of your classic lines when I speak and write. (He's featured in chapter one of Destroying Demons on the Diagonal). 

You touched many people's lives in a positive way.

From cloudy Grand Junction this Memorial Day,
Jeff


Saturday, May 23, 2015

My Good buddy Governor David...

Y. Ige finally got around to responding to my complaint of the squalid conditions at the Na Pail Coast Wilderness on Kauai, Hawaii. 

Here's Governor Ige's response.  (Well, probably not David but at least an underling.)

Dear Mr. Sambur:

Mahalo for contacting my office on 1/9/2015 about the condition of the Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park.

In my experience, many of the best ideas for making positive change in State government and for the people of Hawaii come from collaboration with members of the community.  Similarly, when input is shared, it gives us the opportunity to assess the issue and take an appropriate course of action.  Be assured that your input will be thoughtfully considered as decisions are made.

Again, thank you for taking the time to convey your thoughts.  Together we can build a better home for your keiki, kupuna, and all the residents of Hawai'i.

Sincerely,

David Y. Ige
Governor of Hawai'i


In early January 2015, I sent the Governor this blog post with a few photos. 

http://jeffsambur.blogspot.ae/2014/12/occupy-na-pali.html

It's my most popular post to date. I didn't include a lot of the nastiness and trash which disappointed me so during my stay there.

Here's a few more photos to show I was making statements and not stories on my blog.                 Shame on those thoughtless few who trashed our wild areas.

Have a safe Memorial Day Weekend. Please take a moment to ponder the meaning behind the day off from work. It's more than just a barbecue.  

Thank You,

Jeff




Friday, May 22, 2015

The Rain Gods looked...

the other way for a brief moment in the month of May. I bribed them with pre-game beverages at the Breckenridge Brewery. I then left my credit card to keep them busy for the duration of the contest.

The Rockies won 7-3 against the Phillies. 

It was worth the inflated bar tab. 

Come on summer!
From rainy (again) Boulder, Colorado 

Off to the Western Slope and blue skies manana,

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

"Cause you gotta have friends..."

By Bette Midler.
 
See? There are human beings in Colorado who actually like me! 

Here's a sampling of what I miss about the Rocky Mountain High state. These are my Fort Collins buddies who tolerate my unusual traits and habits. Thanks folks. 

This photo was taken at Old Chicago during another dank, dreary and hyperthermia inducing evening. I think we drew a big crowd because everyone was Jones-zing to get out and socialize. Another draw (other than seeing me!) might have been big beers for a mere $5. Such a deal! A true bargain in happiness. 

It was great seeing everyone and a wonderful time was had by all. I think.

Maybe one future evening, we'll be able to drink outside without rain gear and down coats on.

Come on summer!





Sunday, May 17, 2015

Back in the Land of the Superfit...

Yep! Boulder, Colorado home to the single digit % of body fat folks and Über athletes. 

Atop 8,144' Green Mountain, I was scoring side-long glances from the wiry trail runners and double-quick-time hikers. I could almost hear their thoughts. "Man! That guy needs to push himself away from the table. What a fatty!" 

It's true. There's been too many breakfast burritos, brews and a slothful existence the past few weeks. I need to get back into somewhat Boulder shape. It's so embarrassing when those gifted physical specimens point at me and snicker. 

If I don't lean up the local BMI (Body Mass Index) Police will be on my case again.
Just like last time only the same...


Excuse me while I drink a gluten-free smoothie. 

Final photo: The Sambur clan celebrating Brother Mike's 21st birthday (again). The diet starts today. 



Friday, May 15, 2015

The Samburs meet the...

Ancient Ones. 

The Old Timers were gone but their cliff dwelling homes remained. It's all there (what the NPS allows the citizens to see) in Mesa Verde National Park. 

Brother Mike and Robin survived the obstacle course of Balcony House Ruin. Climbing up a 32 foot ladder? No sweat. A crawl through a narrow twelve foot tunnel? No biggie. A very angled uphill ascent along an old trail? Bring it on! These are two tough Long Islanders. 

Now the ultimate question still remains concerning Mesa Verde. Why did the residents wander away from their pads around 1300 AD?

Glad you asked.
The Eggheads have many theories: drought, degradation of resources, the threat of invasion from not-so-nice tribes and the "I'm tired of looking at the same old Mesa. Let's go somewhere else" theory. 

They are all wrong. It's all about the beer.

Here's my thoughts.
The Ancient One brewmasters  had a few years of disappointing barley and hops harvest. Their beer production was nil. They needed to resort to trade to score a few good IPA's. The cliff dwelling elders sent the young bucks off to exchange pottery beer mugs for the liquid itself from the southerly faraway brewmasters. Unfortunately, the youngsters drank all the brew while journeying back to their cliff dwelling clans. 

Here's how the sad arrival scene went.

Cliff Dwelling Elder. "OY! The beer is gone? You didn't leave us any? Are you stupid in the brain?" 

An Elders meeting was convened. The tribes needed a solution to this beer dilemma. 

The wisest Ancient One thought for a moment and exclaimed. "Let's not me schlimazels. Let's move to the brew! Besides, I'm tired of looking at the same old Mesa anyway. In a few centuries, this place will make a great National Park."  

And that's how it all went down.

Cheers.

In photo number one, our brave New York explorers discover Spruce Tree Ruin.

Final Photo. An explorer must eat a proper breakfast before taking on the challenges of the ruins. We got our fill at the Durango Diner. That's Gary the owner and all around nice guy too.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Our Intrepid Explorers....

took on the rigors of the rugged San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado. They summited three mountain passes and have photos to prove it. 

And just like Lewis and Clark, they survived and "We will proceed on." 

Robin wanted to shoot more photos of the high altitude skyline. I patiently explained that Colorado has many mountains. There's 54 peaks over 14,000 feet and 600-plus mountains in excess of 13,000 feet. You can take lots of pix here without snapping the same mountain twice.

This is what I love about this state. 

After a hard day of adventuring, our globetrotters retired to the Steamworks brewpub in Durango for serious sustenance. That's right, a Colorado Cajun Boil. 

Today, we'll take on Mesa Verde. 
Watch out Ancient Ones, here we come.





Tuesday, May 12, 2015

BEWARE! Samburs...

Unleashed! 

I am now an official Colorado tour guide for brother Mike and bestest  sister-in-law Robin. 

No road trip of Colorado is complete without a stopover at the Turntable Diner in Minturn. It's the home of the World Famous Boo! (AKA the best breakfast burrito in the Centennial state.) 


My family members concurred the four bonus miles of driving was well worth the detour. There are many (like nephew J-Man) who can't handle the Boo. You are wimps. Period. 

Our post Boo breakfast was spent at the Glenwood Hot Springs. (The world's largest hot springs pool)
Surf's Up! Dude! 

Next stop. Ouray. 

PS. My Colorado guide services can be obtained at a reasonable rate. A few IPA's and maybe a breakfast burrito is all the payment I need. 

Such a deal!

Come on Summer!
Jeff


Sunday, May 10, 2015

I still miss

my Mother.

Clara Sambur exited this world when she and I were both too young. She was 52 and I was 17 at the time. In that short period she left an everlasting positive impression on me.
 
Funny thing is, she pulled it all off in subliminal manner. 

My smile came directly from her. No doubt about it. My affectionate and nurturing side too. In other words, she made me what I am today. A male Jewish Mother! 

Whenever Clara wasn't involved in hugging one of her three "boychiks" she could be found lounging around with an open book. She passed her love of the written word onto her baby boy. 
It wasn't like she ever sat me down and told me, "Jeffy! Read! It's good for you!" No. That wasn't her style. I guess when I saw her reading with a perpetual grin on her face, I figured it must be a good thing. So I began to inhale books too.


Losing her at the between age of 17 (not a child, but not an adult either) was the defining moment on how I turned out to be. Without her subtle guidance I developed an independent nature. Now I consider myself a sociable hermit. 

My brother Mike has come the closest to filling the mentoring void in my life. 
I might not always do what he says, but I do listen to him. 

So...Mom thanks for all you've generously given me. I wish you didn't leave Earth so soon. 

From soggy and now White Death Boulder, Colorado 
Happy Mother's Day!

Photo One: Brother Mike and I and Clara's Great Grandchild Dylan. 
Photo Two: I'm doing a bit of nurturing at a tykes Tea Party. 


Friday, May 8, 2015

It's more than a huge litter box...

The Great Sand Dunes National Park is another "What the Heck!" is going on here oddity of the San Luis Valley. This high valley (average altitude 7,600 feet) is home to an alligator park, a UFO viewing platform, the legacies of the Spanish Land Grants and numerous farms growing potatoes, alfalfa and Barley. (Not my van). In certain towns, English is a second language. Green chile and breakfast burritos are standard fare in the cafes and diners. The SLV is one of my favorite regions of Colorado. 

Back to the Dunes: The San Luis Valley is hemmed in between the San Juan and the Sangre de Cristo mountain ranges. The winds here are relentless are don't believe in time outs. The more-than-never-ending breezes vacuumup the topsoil as it rolls along the valley floor. Boom! The winds strike the obstruction of the Sangre de Cristo mountains. The earthy grains drop out. Wallah! Instant (geologically speaking) Great Sand Dunes National Park. 

That's your lesson for the day.

Great Sand Dunes park is another Colorado wonder. Visit it. Make an effort to spend some coin in the nearby communities. This is one of the poorest regions of the Centennial State. But, thats another story. 

Final photo: I don't always hike alone, I had Ladybug company. 

Happy Friday,
Jeff



Thursday, May 7, 2015

You Meet the Nicest People V...

at the Durango Diner.

Meet Dean, he was the other Assistant Boatman on our June, 2014 Grand Canyon raft trip.
Unlike me, Dean knew what he was doing. He was able to discern the bow from the stern. He knew what an Eddy is. I kept thinking it was a guest I haven't met yet. He was a pleasure to be around and fit in perfectly in the overall scene. He's a new buddy of mine.

Here's my pre-blog post I wrote about my experience. It was a tough voyage for this old guy.


Assistant Boatman II

In 2011, I acted (right word) as an assistant boatman. The experience was positive enough that I decided to give it a go again.

Lynn (boatman extraordinaire) invited me along for Round Two.

Sadly, the times they are a-changing on the Colorado River. The new generation boatmen are half my age, nimble, experienced and crazy fast in getting chores done.

The next generation also views the Grand Canyon as one vast sleep-away camp featuring swims through rapids, cliff jumping, tug-of-wars and other X Games diversions. All this complete with a "last one in, is a rotten egg" attitude.

Silly me, I thought National Parks were a place to seek solitude, beauty and serenity.

For the first time I my life, I felt like a doddering old man. (I was the oldest crew member among seven). I was humbled and intimidated at the same time.

So... I'm announcing my second retirement. I'll go back to doing what I'm good at. Being a gainfully unemployed retiree.

See, I even have a stone La-Z Boy throne for my non-work space.

BTW. The Grand Canyon is still one of the best places on the planet. In my future, I'll see it at my own pace and schedule. It'll be quieter too. 


And I did go back, just last month.