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Sunday, December 8, 2013

AND A TEMPORARY HELLO to BOULDER, COLORADO.




Mums apt view, Alfalfa and Arapahoe Ave, Boulder, Colorado.


My Mum, the computer nerd.

It's really nice to be back in Boulder again, and of course it's great to see me Mum again too. Although, since she now has her iPad that she got back last May or June, she's now become so proficient at using it that using Skype for her is no problem anymore so we get to see each other every day no matter where in the world that I may be. She's morphed into a new old age surfer. 

In the beginning of her indoctrination to the Way of the Apple she was ready to throw the iPad out the window in frustration probably about 4 or 5 times a day. Those special little moments are now, thankfully, in the past, as she deftly navigates and casually surfs her way through the Irish Times, NBC News, Wherethehellismurph.com, and also logs on to the Apple store here in Boulder and books her appointments for her weekly computer classes. All sorts of good stuff to keep her occupied and off the streets late at night where trouble awaits in the dark alleys and pool halls of Boulder. 
86. It's the new 65.

The Apple Store in Boulder CO.



Every country, city and town has it's positives and negatives. You'll find people who love the place and wouldn't live anywhere else, and people who are indifferent to it and treat it as just another town, and there's a few I'm sure who hate it. But for the most part, Boulder is a great place to live. It has a little bit of everything.
But for me, I really love the fact that it's such an outdoorsy town to be in. Whether it be the scenery, the running, the hiking, climbing or biking trails, there's no shortage of places to go in Boulder and the surrounding area to get your outdoors on. You will be hard pressed to run out of outdoor activities to do in Boulder.
































The Flatiron Mountain Range, Boulder Colorado.







There are 5 Flatirons, or Chautauqua Slabs as they were known circa 1900, of conglomerate sandstone that geologists age at around 290+ million years old.
And according to said geologists they were lifted and tilted into their present position between 35-80 million years ago. That narrows it down quite a bit, eh?. A bit like how comcast tell you "Yes, we'll be there between 8am and 5pm...On Thursday". They just don't tell you which Thursday.






Chief Niwot (Left Hand)
c. 1825-1864

Boulder Colorado, rich in history and turmoil that still continues to this day. A dramatically different kind of agitation and unrest that Chief Niwot (c. 1825-1864) was dealing with back in the mid 1800's as he lead the Arapahoe Indian tribe toward their winter grounds here in the Boulder Valley.
Most of the problems here in the Valley today seem to revolve around who can smoke what and where they can legally smoke it without getting arrested...and road sharing with cyclists. 
Colorado, according to the CDC, has more people who exercise and fewer overweight people than any other state. And apparently, Boulders bicycle count is over 93,000. Which is nearly equal to its population of approximately 102,000. Most of my friends here have 2 or three bicycles, one road bike and one or two mountain or trail bikes. Serious biking town. Sometimes the city ploughs clear the Boulder Creek bike path before they plough the streets. I'm not sure about the validity of that last statistic so when I get back from my east coast trip I'm going to make some inquiries and find out if it's really true.



Boulder is not only a runners paradise but also a cycling mecca, and on more than one occasion irate motorists have been known to intentionally run cyclists off the road, sometimes fatally.




Chief Niwot, (Niwot means Left Hand) was the voice of peace in the early years of the Colorado gold rush, welcoming the first gold seekers (who were trespassers on Arapahoe lands) and permitted them to stay in the Boulder Valley. Left Hand was killed on November 29, 1864, along with about 150 Cheyennes and Arapaho at Sand Creek by U.S. volunteer troops. The slaughter is known as the Sand Creek massacre.  
Official accounts never confirmed his death because Chief Niwot made it off the battlefield alive and back to the reservation where he died a few days later.
But even though Left Hand and the Arapahoe no longer winter here in the Boulder Valley, the Chiefs name still lives on. His spirit still inhabits the air and floats through Left Hand Canyon, Niwot Mountain and the town of Niwot.
The Arapahoe tribe will never leave the Valley. It's their home forever, just as it was before the white man came, and the street that Mum lives on here in Boulder is called Arapahoe Ave. Fitting indeed.
I wonder how many people that walk around Boulder today have any idea of how rich, deep and meaningful the history of this town and surrounding countryside really is. It must have been a really beautiful place back then, the Valley, the Flatiron mountains. The stunning, uninterrupted and unmolested beauty of the land. No Wally Worlds, no 7elevens or any other ugly looking buildings that seem to have infected the landscape of most modern towns today. 
The natural beauty of the land changed and went downhill quickly when Chief Left Hand decided to let the white man stay about the time the Colorado gold rush started.









However, Boulder is still a town that has a lot of natural beauty to it. 
Every morning I go for a 5 mile run and hike up the Bluebell Trail that runs along the side of the Flatirons.
A few miles up the trail there's a seat, a large chunk of Sandstone with a concave center to it that forms a crude but nonetheless reasonably comfortable seat to rest ones weary posterior. 
It's a choice spot, a perfectly placed vantage point, resting up against and under a tree with a lovely view overlooking the valley and the town of Boulder.





It's a great spot to meditate, relax or climb Flatiron #3 which goes up to about 8,000ft.

There's an old prophecy, an insight and vision that Chief Niwot had that's called the Curse of the Boulder Valley, where Left Hand foresaw what was to come when he said, "People seeing the beauty of this valley will want to stay, and their staying will be the undoing of the beauty". 
Maybe not the undoing of the beauty of the Boulder Valley but it was definitely the total annihilation of the Arapahoe tribe that wintered here many many moons ago.










Pearl Street and the Flatirons in the distance, Boulder, Colorado.


Boulder Creek Trail, my favorite hiking, biking and running trail here in Boulder.





















Boulder Creek Trail is a 7 mile (one way) path that goes from east Boulder by Valmont Reservoir out to the western end of town where Fourmile Canyon and Boulder Canyon intersect. The Boulder Creek Path Trail parallels the Boulder Creek as it passes through Boulder and out into the canyon. In summer Boulder Creek is a very popular tubing spot as tuber dudes and dudettes walk around town with big truck tire inner tubes hanging around their neck like oversized pieces of jewelry.



However, on Thursday, September 12th of this year Boulder, and many other places in the area, got absolutely hammered and deluged with over 7 inches (18cm) of rainfall in a 24 hr period. The region saw the worst flooding they have seen in almost 100 years, wreaking havoc on property, homes, lives, just wiping out everything in its path of destruction. Absolutely brutal. And it also wiped out all the running and hiking trails in the area too. These shots of the Boulder Creek Trail were only a few days after it had reopened. It had been closed since the flooding nearly three months ago. It could take years for all the damage that has been left in the wake of the floods to be repaired, but some residents have lost everything and will never recover.
You can view photos of some of the damage HERE and HERE.










Mikes Camera on Pearl Street in Boulder, Colorado.

So part of my visit in the US this winter has DriveAwayCancer on the itinerary. Since I left my RideAwayCancer sidecar outfit back in Finland, visiting kids with cancer and giving them sidecar rides in my outfit is on hold until I get it repaired and running again. So rather than sit around and chew the fat with Mum (I mean, how much fat can we chew anyway) I decided to rent a car and do a road trip, an east coast and west coast tour, visiting friends, kids with cancer, and some photography as I travel along the way. I have a few speaking engagements to do on the road as well, so either way a trip was in the cards.

What was initially just a Christmas visit with Mum has turned into a 3 month tour of the east coast of the United States. Mum was supposed to come with me for a Mums Road Trip Pt II on this leg of the journey, but she didn't think she'd be up for such a whirlwind travel schedule so she left me to go it solo. 



I had to stop by Mikes Camera here in Boulder to get some of my photography printed and mounted so I could take them with me to show and sell as I travel. 


I gave the guys there a tall order, over 50 prints to get enlarged and mounted in 2 days. A lot of work under normal conditions, but being holiday season it was even more of a challenge. Somehow they managed to get them all done. Thank you guys, very much appreciated. 
Mikes also sponsored a set of "give-away" prints for me, photos that I give to the kids as I visit them. 

Emma with a Mikes Camera sponsored print.

Emma was the first one to get one of these prints when I visited her in Texas, so a very special thank you to Ron at Mikes Camera in Boulder again for allowing me to put a smile on Emmas face and leave her with a nice memento of my visit. We'll get to more of my visit with Emma later.




Since I started to do a little research on the Arapahoe tribe and Chief Niwot and their time in the Boulder Valley, the Sand Creek Massacre of course came up in my fieldwork. Looking at a map I noticed that the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site, which is a U.S. National Park, was only 190 miles south east of Boulder and pretty much on the way to my first destination of Shamrock TX.






















So, according to Wikipedia, basically what happened at Sand Creek was this:
On November 29 in 1864, a 700-man force of Colorado Territory militia attacked and destroyed a peaceful village of Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians encamped in southeastern Colorado Territory, killing and mutilating an estimated 163 Indians, two-thirds of which were women and children. 

The reason for the attack was grounded in the fact of the discovery of gold in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, land that the United States had given to the Indians in the Treaty of Fort Laramie of 1851. After the discovery of gold in 1858, all bets were off and the U.S. wanted the land back. On February 18, 1861, six chiefs of the Southern Cheyenne and four chiefs of the Arapahoe signed the Treaty of Fort Wise with the U.S. in which they ceded most of the lands designated to them by the Fort Laramie treaty. It didn't go over well with all of the Indians, especially some of the Cheyenne bands, the Dog Soldiers, and a lot of them refused to abide with the new treaty's constraints. It all went downhill from there and the Sand Creek Massacre was the culmination of a long and bloody war with the Indians.

"Damn any man who sympathizes with Indians. I have come to kill Indians, and I believe it is right and honorable to use any means under God's heaven to kill Indians. Kill and scalp all, big and little; nits make lice"....Col. John Milton Chivington. The State of Colorado evidently admired Col. Chivington so much they even named the town of Chivington CO after the man. Although I use the term "man" loosely here.



The reason the Massacre at Sand Creek came to light and led to a congressional investigation was because two U.S. Volunteer Cavalrymen refused to fire during the attack and afterward wrote letters to their commander describing the horrors they had witnessed. The letters came to the attention of an army commission who subsequently changed the assessment of Sand Creek from a battle to a massacre.




























By the time I was done touring and photographing the Sand Creek site, I was definitely a little melancholy and in need of a pick me up.
And my pick-me-up of choice was a big, thick, juicy man steak when I arrived at  the end of my first days travel at my host Candy Ferris, one of DriveAwayCancer's angels. 


Candy treated me to Big Verns Steakhouse, right on historic Route 66.



In this part of Texas it's all oilfield and gas field country. So if there are no oil rig man sized pickups parked outside the steakhouse that you're thinking of eating at, then you're probably at the wrong place.



Fortunately we were at the right place, and my steak I had been salivating and patiently waiting almost 2 years for (since I left the U.S.) was just what my inner carnivorous Neanderthal craved and my evolved Homo Erectus palette desired.






The next morning I was back on the road again and headed for Eastern Texas to visit with Emma. Emma is special...very special. 
Her personality is, well, contagious I guess. I'd heard a lot about Emma from John Nikas, the founder of DriveAwayCancer. But hearing about Emma and meeting her and spending some time with her are two totally different things.
I will be including Emma's story and many, many more photos of my time with her in the next post here on Wherethehellismurph.com as I'm running out of time on this post.











I'm currently in Little Rock, Arkansas after visiting with Syn Henthorne, another DriveAwayCancer driver who takes, Ginger, her 1977 Triumph Spitfire and visits with and gives rides to children with cancer and other illnesses. So far she's logged almost 25,000 miles in the last year for DriveAwayCancer and the kids. Currently Ginger is at Ron McLeods British Cars in Maumelle, Arkansas getting a new engine. 
We both visited Madison, a two-year-old who is in remission and doing well so far. As soon as I post this article this Sunday morning I jump in the Chevy Tahoe I rented and drive the 1100 miles to Fort Lauderdale in Florida. 






Currently the Midwest region of the U.S. is caught up in a pretty bad winter storm, which means I am too. Coming from Finland and having already dealt with riding to Nordkapp has taught me well in dealing with this type of weather. However, most of Arkansas, where I am leaving this morning, is pretty much at a standstill. Weather conditions like this happen rarely down in these parts and usually brings most of the state to complete halt. I was going to say to a complete freeze, but it's already freezing here.


Adios Arkansas, hello sunny Florida.



Murph.





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