Grassland Adventure

My sisters were here a few days ago, and it was an especially great visit. Besides getting to see them, I also got to go to the national grasslands, an area I’ve been wanting to explore ever since I moved here. I have driven through the grasslands and saw . . . ta da! Yep, you guessed it — grass! Miles and miles of grasses.

In the back country of those grasslands are all sorts of interesting things such as canyons, petroglyphs, dinosaur tracks, and tarantulas. There are hiking trails back there, too, but they are not the easiest, nor are they the easiest to get to — miles of dirt and gravel roads, and I have no interest in shaking my car apart just to satisfy my curiosity. (Do you remember those cartoons where some character is driving a jalopy, the car hits a bump, and the thing falls to pieces? That’s what I always envision when I have to drive a bit on unpaved roads.)

We headed out late in the afternoon, so by the time we got to the grasslands, we were only able to explore and hike for a short time before the sun starting setting. Still, even without seeing petroglyphs and dinosaur tracks, we were able to get a sense of the area.

Huge slabs of sedimentary rock looked like a river in the fading light. It was easy to believe that these slabs once formed the muddy floor of a prehistoric lake.

The sun shining on the canyon wall peeping over the rim made it look as if the canyon were on fire.

Vast swaths of grass gleamed with autumn colors.

It was hard to imagine how the folks traveling the Santa Fe Trail we able to traverse such areas in their primitive vehicles. (Though I’m sure at the time, those wagons were considered modern conveyances.)

But best of all, to my delight (and to my sister’s screeching horror) I finally got to see a tarantula! Ever since I heard of the tarantula migration in this area, I’ve been on the lookout for tarantulas. I even set out at dusk a couple of times to see if I could find any tarantulas on the move, but they’ve proven to be illusive creatures.

There’s still so much to explore out in the grasslands, but I won’t be able to return until I can find someone with a proper vehicle and a sense of adventure to go with me. Although I used to hike alone in remote areas, that was when I was younger. Admittedly, I was only four or five years younger, but back then, I didn’t feel as if I had anything to lose. And too, my knees were in great condition. But that’s not something I want to dwell on. The truth is, I am very grateful to have been able to see (and experience) what I got to see. Such an adventure!


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Odd Thoughts

Today is following the pattern of my previous two or three Mondays. I got up, did my knee exercises, made my bed, folded my quota of origami cranes, dealt two cards for a simple tarot reading, checked a few things on the computer, then drove to the mechanic’s shop.

As on the previous Mondays, I talked to the mechanic for a few minutes, then drove away. He’s dealing with some post-Bob issues, and even all these months later, isn’t back to his normal healthy self. He’s been closed the past week, and even though he’s way behind in his work, he planned to work on my car today. I didn’t want to put more pressure on him, so I made an appointment for next Monday instead.

The problem is one of the brake cylinders. Three were replaced, but the VW parts place sent the wrong part in the right box, so that fourth cylinder has to be replaced as well as — perhaps — the master cylinder. Because my brakes seem to work for the light driving I do — a few miles out and back on the four-lane highway outside of town — I can wait a while longer.

I did have an odd thought as I was driving that road — it was once part of the Santa Fe Trail, and it occurred to me that the brief journey I took today would have been an arduous, all-day trek for those folks. (Well, I did say it was an odd thought, not a deep thought.)

Once back in town, I went to the library and got a few extra books than I normally do because I wasn’t on foot. (Luckily, being a loyal and constant patron has its privileges, so they don’t hold me to the normal limit.)

And then, as I have done after coming home from a library visit ever since I was a child, I immediately grabbed a book and plopped down to read.

In the book I chose, the crime scene investigators used a CrimeScope — some sort of blue light — to check for fibers and stains, of which there were a lot. Afterward, they used Luminol to check for blood.

That’s when another odd thought popped up. I wondered what we would see if someone checked for those things in my house. After all, it’s almost one-hundred years old, and has probably seen a lot of living and maybe even some dying.

Except for purposes of this blog, I put the thought out of my mind. I don’t want to know where the invisible stains are, and I definitely don’t want to know what they are, especially since one over-night visitor claimed to have seen a ghost in my guest bedroom/office.

Which leads me to another odd thought. Why do people who think they see a ghost think they are seeing ghosts rather than that they are hallucinating? I mean, if I saw a ghost in my house, I wouldn’t get scared and think to myself, “Oh, no. A ghost.” I’d get scared and think, “What the heck is wrong with me?”

That’s enough odd thoughts for the day, though who knows. The day isn’t even half over, so there is plenty of room for more odd thoughts.


What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God

Along the Sante Fe Trail

It’s been almost two months since my friend and her sister were here visiting. They came right before all the restrictions, and wow, it seems much longer than that. A lifetime ago. We had a fabulous time exploring the Santa Fe Trail, Bent’s Fort,

and trails along the trail.

I haven’t been on any adventures since then except in books, but today I received a wonderful surprise from my friend, and now I have my own book of adventures to look at when I get tired of the adventures in the Wheel of Time juggernaut.

This friend makes books of all her adventures, so it was a real thrill to get a book of my own highlighting our adventures.

Most of the photos we took were similar, but she took pictures that I didn’t. I knew what the downtown looked liked here, so I didn’t bother with images of the slummy area, but she made the place look quaint and interesting.

We also went on a bit of walking tour in one town and found some interesting stories beyond the Santa Fe Trail mystique.

Her book ended with . . . what else but me and my hat!

I hope she doesn’t mind my sharing parts of her book, but I thought all of us — not just me — needed something fun to think about for a change.

And yes, my friend. Thanks for the memories.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.


Ghost Adventure

I try to drive once a week to keep my car running and to prevent today’s low quality gas from rotting the fuel lines. Mostly on my driving day, I’ve been heading to the bigger town to get items I can’t get around here, and to pick up the groceries too heavy or bulky to carry when I’m on foot, but today, I didn’t need enough to warrant an errand trip. So I went adventuring.

I’ve been wanting to go hiking in the the state wildlife area that’s just a few miles from here, but when I finally found the area, I was only able to drive about a quarter of a mile on those washboard roads before I gave up. Such roads rattle my poor old car, and I always worry I will end up like one of those jalopies in comic strips, where the hero hits a bump, and that old car falls to pieces.

I drove very carefully back out to the paved road, and headed toward a nearby historic area with a ghost town. Many of the buildings had been washed away in a long ago flood, but the ones that remain are in good shape and house  a museum of sorts.

This ghost town is on the Santa Fe trail — a ghost trail for real. Those travelers who didn’t die on the trail have been settled in graveyards for a century or more.

After walking the few feet of trail that’s in the historic region, I moseyed along the ghost river. This river bed was once a raging river, though in it’s current incarnation, it’s a placid creek about a half mile away from this river bed. (Though when the rains come, it reverts back to it’s wild youth, or so I’ve been told.)

It was a gorgeous day, perfect for taking photos and wandering the grassy trails. The only downside of the trip (well, besides not getting to hike in the state wildlife area) was plaque honoring the women who’d once lived there. Not that I object to the mention of the women. It was the story attached to one Indian woman that haunts me. She was married to a white man, and the lands she got as reparation for the Sand Creek Massacre helped build his empire. It just struck me as so wrong that the same sort of folks who destroyed the native peoples were in any way allowed to benefit. The cynic in me wonders how many men, married to Indian women, were instrumental in getting the reparations.

But they, too, are ghosts now — the man and his property-bearing wife. And anyway, my own ancestors were starving in a country far away across the ocean when all this happened, so it’s not as if I bear any personal responsibility. I will let it go and just remember the gorgeous day and my ghost walk under the lovely blue Colorado skies.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Life on the Trail

I haven’t yet taken up my perennial pastime of long rambling walks, though on one lovely spring day I did follow a road out of town to see where it went. I didn’t go far, only a mile and a half or so, and what I saw was . . . a whole lot of things or a whole lot of nothings depending on your point of view. Mostly, there was the road bounded on both sides by brown-grass fields, an occasional field overrun with purple mustard (which smells like sour milk to me and melted crayons to other people).

A few creatures stopped to nod at me and welcome me to the neighborhood.

And at the beginning — and end — of my journey was the courthouse.

I am living on the Santa Fe Trail, though in this particular political climate, I’m not sure what to think about that. Is it something to brag about, be ashamed of, or ignored altogether? Whatever the truth, it’s hard to ignore the trail since some of the roads around here follow the trail, and there are reminders everywhere. (It’s odd to think how often I thought of living — backpacking — on a long trail, and here I am. Life seems to be something of a punster.)

I used to love history, no matter whose history it was, because it seemed to me past events and other cultures were an indication of who we are as a species, but nowadays, with accusations of “cultural appropriation” heaped even on youngsters decked out in tribal wear for Halloween, I’m not sure it’s wise to see myself other than what I am today. (Whatever that may be.)

It’s amazing to think I haven’t even been here a month. I’ve made friends. (Meet Butters, who loves my little awning.)

I’ve joined the art guild, made plans to go to a dinner theater put on by a local church, am getting to know a couple of street people, and frequently visit the library.

Next week, workers are supposed to come to do some repairs around the house, and I’m hoping that this time, next week will actually come. (He’s been promising “next week” for weeks now.) It would be nice to finish unpacking, though I am getting used to making my way around the maze of my belongings.

As for today, well . . . when I finish here, I’ll fix asparagus in my new asparagus steamer (a housewarming gift) in my new kitchen and read a new book from the library.

Life on the Trail is good.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.