Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Blasting Rocks


Mountain Iris at the bottom of our driveway


This morning, Milo, our mixed breed mutt, and I took our daily morning walk.  We stopped at the Sunshine school house and raised the American flag.  Milo always sits at attention.  As we continued our walk, the school bus approached.  Bob, the driver, stopped the bus and passed Milo a treat.  Bob mentioned that he saw a mountain lion on his way up the canyon.  We talked about keeping the dogs safe and then he continued his trip toward Boulder.  As we moved on, I told Milo this story about Sunshine.



The community of Sunshine is a ghost town.  It was a good sizedgold mining community in the 1870’s.  Between the gold playing out and the wars, the residents left, leaving mine shafts, building foundations, stories and a couple of ghosts.  Our neighborhood is now a bedroom community for Boulder and Denver.  The mines are still here, and so are some of the stories.


Miners have always been practical jokers.  Harry, my father-in-law, told me a story of a miner that was involved in a mine accident.  He claimed a fellow miner lost his finger in the accident.  The first miner said he had found the missing finger of the second miner.  He claimed to have picked it up off the floor of the mine and put it in his can of chew (chewing tobacco). To prove this claim, he opened his can of chew and there was a finger tip!  While the others were looking at it, the finger moved, startling the onlookers.  The miner had actually poked a hole in the bottom of the can and put his own finger through the bottom.


Several years ago I was walking through Crossroads Mall in Boulder.  It was in a time period just before Halloween.  As I passed Spencer’s Gifts, I noticed a plastic human skull with all of the Halloween merchandise.  I couldn’t resist, so I bought one, took it home and hid it away.


Harry hasowned a prospecting permit, allowing him to work the mine on our property on a small basis.  He also has a blasting permit, allowing him to set off some small explosives.  One Saturday, Harry asked me to help him while he was setting off an explosive charge.  Harry drilled holes in the rock and set the charges.  Always vigilant of safety precautions, we had to keep the area secure.  I was below the area, keeping anyone who might wonder by from entering the blasting area.  Harry called out “Fire in the hole” and I repeated it.  There was no response.  The area was safe.  Harry set off the charge and after making sure everything was secure, we left the area.  There are dangerous residual gases in the blasting area.  Later, Harry inspected the rubble and found some nice gold ore samples.


On Thursday evening, when I returned home from work, we repeated the process.  This time, after setting off the charge, we went home for dinner.  While we were eating I excused myself from the table, snuck out the back door and ran down to the blast area.  I took the plastic human skull and buried it in the rubble and then returned home.  We finished dinner and Harry excused himself.  I knew he would want to go to the blast area and checkout the loose rock.  Janice and I followed him, keeping out of sight.  We settled on top of a hill above Harry.  We heard him moving rocks, then a quiet pause.  Then came “Oh my, what’s this?”  We couldn’t keep from laughing.  To this day, he is still trying to “get even”.


He did try once.  Harry put a rubber scary Halloween mask on the spindle of the washing machine.  Because I usually do the laundry, he knew I would be the next one to open the lid.  Well.....it was Janice that opened the washing machine lid.  We could here her scream all the way in Boulder.

Monday, February 20, 2006

A few odds and ends

Congratulations to my friend and neighbor, Tony.  He will be taking his oath of citizenship this week and will become an official Citizen of the United States of America.  The entire community of Sunshine is proud to have Tony and his wife, Linda, as neighbors.  If I may steal a quote from one of his friends: " Since you haven't gone through the oath ceremony yet...here is one key hint for you:  Should the judge ask you "What flies over the courthouse?"...don't answer "pigeons". The answer they're looking for is the US flag." The official party will be held when the weather warms up a  bit.  In the mean time...  

Saturday Afternoon Club will be held at Steve and Dee's on Saturday, the 25th, beginning at 5:30PM.  The Appalachian-American Star Route Band (formally Sunshine Star Route Hillbillys, AKA the Blowtorch Hillbillys), will be playing.  They had to change their name to become politically correct.  Everybody knows that you can't do anything in Boulder without being politically correct!  It will be a great time to celebrate anything you wish to celebrate.  

Speaking of celebrating, I would like to address a comment that was left by an old friend in Milo's birthday post. 

 "Why do you drink? 

 Why do you roll smoke? 

Why must you live out these songs that your wrote?" 

 It just might be a Family Tradition.  And what is wrong with singing into a daffodil?  At the time, it sure looked like a microphone.  I just wish they wouldn't have kicked us out of that fine dining establishment in Columbia, Maryland.  Are You A Turtle? Thanks Greg!  

As a side note, we are not in Boulder.....We are 6.5 miles west of Boulder.  Keep smiling!  David  

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Milo says "Thank you"


The Flat Irons, west of Boulder

Milo wanted my to say "Thank you for the birthday wishes".  It was a very, very cold birthday but I don't think he minded.

Speaking of cold, we reached a low for the season of -21 degrees in Sunshine.  I hope that will be the last sub zero cold blast of the year.  We ran an extension cord and a 150 watt light bulb out to the pump house on Friday night.  That was enough heat to keep the pipes from the well from freezing.  All the cars started, hip hip hooray!  Now it's time for the thaw and, hopefully the beginning of the spring snow season.  March is our snowiest month.  I look forward to the heavy wet snows.  They bring the much needed moisture, not to speak of great snow for the skiers!

It appears the fire at the firehouse started in the furnace.  Appearently, the bearings in the blower had worn out.  With such an extensive cold snap, the blower ran often, causing the blower to heat up and start the fire.  This is the initial finding and it is still undergoing review.

Keep smiling, David

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Milo's Birthday


Two years ago, My brother-in-law came to visit us with his pregnant dog.  While here, she had her puppies.  Milo was born, outside, in the cold, on Feb. 16, 2004.  We fell in love with him. We had no idea how big he was going to be when he grew up, but we really didn't care.

The BIL moved on with his dog.  Milo stayed here with us.  Although he officially belongs to my son Mike, he is my constant companion.  He warns us of any bears in the area.  He sits at attention as I raise the American Flag at the school house.  I still can't get him to help me fold it at the end of the day. 

Please join me in wishing Milo a Happy Birthday!



Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Our day of Love



Janice and I have never made a big deal over Valentines Day.  We have made everyday of our marriage a special day of love.  Janice and her friend Marcia have taken the Presidents Day holiday for a "girls weekend".  They usually take this weekend to head for the warmth of Mexico, Arizona or Nevada.  One year, they took a cruise.  For most of those years, Valentines day fell during "girls weekend" and Janice and I were apart.  I didn't mind because, as I said, we celebrate Valentines Day, everyday.

Some of the things I have enjoyed doing have been fun.  I like picking up a couple of boxes of kids valentines.  You know, the ones the grade school kids stuff into decorated shoe boxes.  I like to start a week or so before Valentines Day and hide them all over the house.  I also save some for special days during the year, her birthday, the day I proposed, our anniversary and so on.  One year I purchased a 2' X 3' card and hung it from the ceiling in the garage.  When she pulled her car into the garage it was hanging right in front of her windshield.  How could she miss it?  This year I gave her a dozen red roses and a card.  Tonight will be a romantic dinner in Boulder at a very nice restaurant.

Today is the day we celebrate Malcom's Birthday.  She is fourteen.



Saturday, February 11, 2006

It takes a brave man



It takes a brave man to run into a burning building. 

The phone rang shortly after 9PM (21:00)on Feburary 10th.  It was Steve L.  "The fire house in on fire!  It's burning to the ground!  I've called 911....do you have the chiefs phone number?"  Janice gave Steve L. the number as I rushed to change clothes.  "Steve's not home (the fire chief, we have 5 Steve's in our neighborhood)" Janice announced as I put on my heavy jacket. 

Moments before I had looked out front door window to be greeted with the sight of flames shooting from the Firehouse roof.  It appeared to be totally involved.  I grabbed my radio and flashlight and headed out the door.  Milo had to stay home.  It was no place for our dog. 

The temperature was in the low teens and the wind was blowing west to east at about 15 miles per hour.    If the fire started "crowning" in the trees, the whole neighborhood would be gone!  Fortunately, we had 5" of snow that kept the fire from spreading.  The fire was contained to the building.  I didn't see anybody controlling traffic.  Because that is usually what I do in these cases, I posted my self at the top of Dr. Paul's upper driveway.  I could direct traffic down the upper driveway, out the lower driveway and onto Misty Vale, the lower road around the firehouse.  My other concern was the propane tank by the north corner of the firehouse.  I had to keep people away from that area.  If it was to go, it would have been a nasty explosion.  It did not explode and everybody was safe.

Many times, at our board meetings, our fire chief would comment about the fire fighting movies being produced.  He would often joke "You'll never find me running into a burning building." I was not aware of it when I started directing traffic, but Steve S. (the chief) was indeed, running into the burning firehouse.  We had two fire trucks in the building.  He drove BOTH of them to a safe location before the ceiling started to collapse.  Fortunately, our two largest vehicles were safely parked in the new fire house.  4501 is our newest and largest truck.  I wrote the check.  We spent over $320,000.  It was the biggest check I have ever written. I would have hated to see it go up in smoke.

Twelve trucks and over forty fire fighters responded.  We had personnel from Sunshine, Gold Hill, Four Mile and Boulder Rural fire departments.

A uniformed fire fighter took over traffic and I went back to the house get warm.  By this time Janice had fixed a large pot of coffee and one of hot chocolate.  We grabbed cups, cream and sugar, a large bag of cookies and headed back to the fire scene.  Janice set up shop on the rear tailgate of Steve's truck.  At that point, Pavel and I took a walk around the scene.  I had encouraged Pavel to run for the board of directors while I was on the board.  I nominated him the position of Director and he was elected.  He will never forgive me for that. LOL

The fire was brought under control and units were being sent home.  Janice and I left for home around 11:45 (23:45).  We were snuggled in bed by midnight.  I turned the scanner off when Steve cleared the scene at 12:10 (00:10)  It was 8 degrees outside.

I will admit, it is awful embarrassing for a fire department to lose it own firehouse.  This morning, when I returned for photos, the arson investigator was there, inspecting the building.  It appears to have started in the furnace room.

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Morning walk



Milo, Here comes the bus!

Milo and I started on our morning walk at 7:05 this morning.  We walked down the long driveway and out on to the main road.  The wind was gusting and it was a cool 22 degrees.  The flag went up at the school houses as usual.  It is staying light until 5:30 PM so we can take the flag down (retire the colors) after work.  We made it to the fork and turned around.  I always give Milo a treat when we turn around.  It is his reward for not going out to the pavement and heavy traffic on Sunshine Canyon Drive.  We walked all the way back to the "bear corner" (where I was face to face with the black bear) before the school bus approached us.  Today I remembered to take my camera.

Bob, the school bus driver, stopped the bus and passed Milo his usual treat.  He then asked me about Dr. Paul.  Dr. Paul usually runs with his two dogs in the morning.  Bob mentioned that he had not seen him lately.  I had to tell Bob that Silka, Dr. Paul's red dog passed away.  I also had to tell him that Dr. Paul, his wife and two children were moving into town.  We will miss them.  I'll have to find someone else to smoke cigars with!  Dr. Paul is our family physician, so I'm sure I will see him at least once a year.  His mother lives in Vail, Colorado.  We are always invited to "camp out" at her house when we go skiing.

The next FAC has just become a SAC!  it will be Saturday, late afternoon, Feb 24th at Steve and Dee's.  The Sunshine Star Route Band (formally The Blowtorch Hillbillys) will be entertaining.



Ahhhhh  Spring skiing in Vail.  A little wine, crackers and cheese and FPS5000!  There is nothing better.

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Gold Hill Inn


The Best picture I could find of Gold Hill.

Traveling west from Sunshine on Sunshine Canyon Drive, the road will take you over a ridge, along a shelf road, and into the town of Gold Hill, Colorado.  It is a small community built among the many abandoned gold mines.  It is 10 miles west of Boulder (3 miles west of Sunshine) at an altitude of 9,400 feet above sea level.  To the west is the Sawtooth Range of the Rocky Mountains.  Visible to the west from Gold Hill is the continental divide.

Visiting  Gold Hill takes you back 100 years.  The dirt roads are bordered by wooden sidewalks.  The cars parked along side the road look out of place.  You would expect to see nothing but horses tied up to hitching rails.  In the center of town is the Gold Hill Inn.  The bar in the Gold Hill Inn is a local gathering place.  Friday nights you will find people from Gold Hill, Sunshine and Boulder.  The dining room serves some of the finest food in the Rockies.  Several years ago, while enjoying cocktails with the neighbors, I saw Dennis Weaver walk into the dining room.  You never know who will show up for dinner. 

That brings me to Tom (see my previous post) and the drink that is named after him.  Tom has been know to schedule an extended lay-over in Denver just so he can bring his traveling companions to the Gold Hill Inn for a refreshment.  Once, while traveling from South America to Hawaii, he stopped in with several friends.  They were there to have a "Kirby Bump".  It is a drink that contains ginger beer, bitters and an orange slice; named for a world traveler, that calls Sunshine his second home.



Friday, February 3, 2006

Sunshine FAC

Actually, I have two things today.  Waverly Person, media director of the National Earthquake Center in Golden, is retiring today.  He has been there for 51 years!  When I was president of the Fort Collins Kiwanis club, Wavery was my mentor.  He helped me grow our membership.  Whenever I had a question, he was there with an answer.  Anytime there was a large earthquake, anywhere in the world, Waverly was the individual the networks would interview.  He kept his sense of humor too.  When he sat down at our table to eat lunch we would ask him "What's shakin'" and he would always laugh.  I still see him often when I go to town.  He always says "Hi" and calls me by my name.  A toast and a tip of my hat to you Waverly.  Congratulations.

Tony and Linda are hosting FAC (Friday Afternoon Club) this evening.  Our friend Tom, is in from New Zealand for the weekend.  I can guarantee we are going to have some fun tonight. Tom has been on all 5 continents.  Born in France, he has traveled all over the world.  (And no, he does not have a cone head, for the older Saturday Night Live crowd)  He is retired from United Airlines.  With his flight benefits, we never know when or where he will show up.  He has a great sense of humor and always keeps us laughing.  They have even named a drink for him at the Gold Hill Inn. (but then, that is another story for another post)



Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Morning Walk



Milo (our mixed breed mutt) and I started our morning walk around 7AM.  The morning sky was Red with the rising sun shining on the clouds.  After waving good-by to the wife and son, we walked down the long driveway onto the main road.  We stop at the Sunshine school house every morning and raise the American flag.  The one room school house was built in 1900 and is no longer used as a school, but as a community gathering place.  I raised the flag to full staff as Milo sat at attention.  I check the Presidential proclamations web site every day to see if the flag should be lowered to half-staff.    Milo was rewarded with a doggy biscuit and we marched on.

We passed the spot where we were greeted by a black bear in August and walked to the fork.  On the way back, the school bus passed us.  Bob, the driver, keeps treats for all the dogs along his route.  He stopped the bus and threw Milo a treat.  We waved to all the kids on the bus and they continued on.  Milo usually sits when he hears to school bus coming.  He knows there is going to be a treat.


Gold was found in Sunshine in 1873.  In 1876 there were 1,200 residents and the population of Sunshine was greater than Boulder (a statistic that did not last long).  By the beginning of the First World War, the mining had played out and most of the residents of Sunshine had moved on.  Although most of the people were gone, the mine tunnels and shafts were still here.  At that time there were no requirements that the land be reclaimed.

When I first visited my wife’s family in Sunshine, Janice’s father wanted to show me around.  Harry took Janice, our friend, David,  his dog, Benny and I on a tour.  We came upon one of the open mine holes above the house.  It looked to be about 50 feet deep.  We were all standing around talking about the dangers of the mine holes when Benny came running up the hill.  He didn’t see the hole in time and took a leap into the air.  I’ll never forget the look on his face. It was the “Oh Sh--, what have I done” look.  He made a 180 degree turn in mid air and started pawing as he slid down the edge of the hole.  Fortunately there was a ledge about 20 feet down and he stopped there.  Harry ran down to the house and grabbed a long rope.  He repelled down the side and brought Benny back up to safety.  Since that day, we have called that the “Dog Hole”.

The Bureau of Mines has started a program of capping all of the old mine shafts.  Most of the holes and shafts in Sunshine have been capped (including the "Dog Hole").  We are still careful of anything that looks like a prospect hole, especially if it is covered with wood.  It’s a bad idea to walk across one.

To see pictures of the Ghost town of Sunshine click on the shortcut :   Sunshine Colorado


My MIL has completed her 7th Chemo treatment and is doing well.

Keep smiling, David