Friday, August 22, 2008

Brass Band Festival

The reason we were in Silverton this particular time of the year was the Great Western Rocky Mountain Brass Band Festival. This was the 27th installment. I attended one of these eight years ago (and neither of us can recall why I was there and Susie wasn't) with the Reinert family and have been wanting to go back, but each year something intervened.

Some history: Before the Festival began there was a Silverton Brass Band. The leader of the band got the idea of inviting other brass musicians (the conductor remarked that in this band there are no instruments that float or burn) to come to Silverton and play along. They recruited Paul Maybery, of McAlester College in MN, to conduct and there are now 45 invited musicians plus one operatic soprano who participate. They all volunteer their time and there's a waiting list to fill openings. The band practices for the first half of the week, then puts on four concerts over the weekend. The concerts are free, but buckets are passed for donations.

I went to the Friday night concert with Dick Reinert. We thought the concert would be too late and long for Jason, so he and Susie stayed in Tuzi and watched the Olympics. We all went to the Saturday noon concert.

The program listed nine numbers. It turned out that the same program was used for all four sessions, but Maybery adds and subtracts numbers to change the performances. Friday night he must have thrown in another nine numbers -- often Sousa marches, but other stuff, too. Scott says they start out with a huge stack of sheet music and they have to be ready for last minute on-stage changes.

The big surprise this year happened in the Saturday noon concert. Maybery decided Friday night that they needed to show they were up with current events. So, he got online, found piano music for the Olympics theme, took a screen shot, somehow ran it through orchestration software to produce the music for all the instruments, then handed it out just before the concert. As far as we could tell, the band got it perfect. Gave you a chill.

The Friday night concert had a lot of variety. Started with a long piece (an overture for you musicologists) by Wagner. Maybery talked about Wagner's music as being complex, but not beautiful ("makes you want to go out and invade Poland"). He quoted Mark Twain: "I have it on good account that Wagner's music is better than it sounds." It finally came to a stirring end. We had "O Danny Boy" and a novelty song about Teddy Roosevelt, the idea being that he was so taken with big game shooting, and so near-sighted, that he started going after farm animals. The band did a medley of H.M.S. Pinafore songs, attributed to Sullivan, only, Maybery said, because Gilbert wrote the words and the band wasn't doing words, so there was no reason to credit Gilbert. Maybery told a story that Sousa had arranged some Gilbert and Sullivan music for a concert in New York. After the concert a man asked him who did the arrangement. "I did," said Sousa. "Well, I knew it wasn't mine," said Arthur Sullivan. "It's better."

One of the evening's highlights for me, surprisingly, was the operatic soprano, Mona Kreitner, who has been singing with the band since 2002. Turns out she just completed a PhD and her thesis was: "A Splendid Group of American Girls: The Women Who Sang with the Sousa Band." Who knew? I was specially moved by the songs she sang because I was at the same time reading my book club's selection, "Bel Canto," by Ann Patchett. It centers around an opera star who has been invited to a South American country to sing at a birthday party for a Japanese businessman who the country's government hopes will build a plant in their country. Patchett writes very movingly and convincingly on the diva, her music, and her effect on all who heard her. I don't know opera, but I was primed to be moved by an operatic soprano and I was. Here's a picture showing soprano and conductor:

I'm not sure about the Cowboy designation in this banner. Overheard some other folks puzzled by it. As you can sort of see from this picture, band members dressed in a variety of ways. There were both Union and Confederate soldiers, and various bowlers, hats, and vests. The Johnny Reb soldier I could see was barefoot.

Back to the program. More numbers I greatly enjoyed included a Sousa arrangement of "Swanee" and related American folk songs, and "In the Mood." A Silverton electrician in the band played the xylophone ("Nola") and tap-danced -- not exactly Sousa-esque music. Things wrapped up with "Nearer My God to Thee," and the grand finale, "Stars and Stripes Forever."

Saturday afternoon I didn't mind hearing some of these songs again and Susie and Jason both enjoyed that day's program, too.

Here's a last shot of Silverton:

That's our RV park in the left center. I should add that the stream in the foreground was a favorite play area for Jason and Vanya Reinert, Scott and Terri's seven-year old son. Many rocks were thrown.

We drove home Sunday, the route to Durango being not as dramatic as the trip in from Ouray. Stopped in Farmington to pick up grandson, Tony Hinkle, who was coming to Albuquerque for his Dad's birthday, and got home in late afternoon.

The plan was to fly Jason home on Wednesday. Our route was through Orlando and we decided, because of hurricane uncertainties, to change plans and fly to Raleigh on Tuesday, via BWI, so that's what we did. I flew back on Wednesday through Orlando with no problem.

So, it was a fine two and a half weeks in Colorado for us all. This was the first time Jason had been away from his parents for an extended time and that went well. I should note that one of his memories will no doubt be swatting flies on our patio on Monday. Killed more than 100, he says, and with his statistical bloodlines (Mom and Dad, not just grandpa), I'm sure that's accurate. Same time next year? Perhaps so. When will Malia join us? Stay tuned.


Rob and Susie

Monday, August 18, 2008

Silverton - 2

Silverton is a scenic and fascinating place. Its mining heyday was in the early 1900s. Nowadays tourists and high-mountain enthusiasts provide its livelihood. The narrow-gage RR from Durango brings a lot of people to town in summer months. One shop-keeper (jewelry, I believe) said if it wasn't for foreign visitors, the town would dry up. As an example, another shop proprietor said he recently sold 150 postcards to a lady from France (we bought four).

I've been here several times over the years -- a few times after bicycle-riding from Durango (about 50 miles over a couple of high passes) in the days I did that sort of thing and a few times after backpacking expeditions in similar such days -- and always enjoyed the amenities and atmosphere (what there is: you can buy t-shirts saying "Got Oxygen?") here.

Here are some retired tour vehicles:

Saturday afternoon Jason and I hiked up a road on a mountain across from our RV park to this waterfall splashing down the mountain. The above Silverton pictures were taken from here.

Jason clings to a perilous perch beside the waterfall. Not really risky, though, Mom and Dad.

One more Silverton post to come -- the Brass Band concerts: the reason we were in Silverton. Great music and entertainment! But first, I'm flying Jason home today, returning tomorrow if flights are available.


Rob and Susie

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Silverton -1

Friday morning. Jason and I took a 4wd tour. Driver, Joe, and his faithful black-lab sidekick, Charlie, took us and a married couple from Memphis on a two-hour round trip to Clear Lake, situated in a high-mountain bowl just above timberline. The tour vehicle was an 85 Suburban, with its top removed, so we could stand up and get the best views.

When we got to the tour office, Joe was trying to alleviate Memphis-Paula's fears that she would die on the mountain, either from lack of oxygen or by rolling down it. He and Memphis-John played good cop (Joe) bad cop (John) successfully and off we went. For the most part she enjoyed the trip. Here are a few pictures:

All bodies of water surrounded by rocks call for rock-skipping and -throwing:

This waterfall flows out of Clear Lake.

One thing we learned: gold and silver mines in the Rockies are generally near the peaks. In contrast, in the California mountains, gold, especially, was found in streams. The difference is due to the age of the mountains. The Rockies are relatively young -- the gold hasn't yet been washed down into the canyons and streams below, while it has in the older CA mountains.

A Silverton slogan is "Experience life as it should be." Our driver fit that mode. He said he moved here a few years ago hoping to buy a tour concession. In the meantime, he started doing contract tour-driving and by doing that found out how much paperwork was required for running a tour business and decided no way. He and Charlie are living the good life just the way it is.

And, so, come to think of it, are we.


Rob, Susie, and Jason

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Idaho Springs to Silverton

Going west from Idaho Springs, I-70 climbs to the Eisenhower (and Johnson, a former CO governor and senator) tunnels. The two tunnels are about 1.7 miles long at an average elevation of 11,112 ft. and take you under Loveland Pass, which tops out at 11,992 ft. The tunnels make a good resonator for Tuzi's airhorns, too. As you travel through the Rockies on major highways you can't help but be amazed at the abilities of the explorers, fur-trappers, and miners who first penetrated these mountains, squeezed through the canyons, scaled the passes, survived and thrived. The road-builders are pretty impressive, too.

We stopped for lunch in Frisco, then continued west, over Vail Pass, then through Vail. The lodges, homes, and condos run for miles. Then, just past Vail, no more trees. Kind of a jolt after our previous few days. (Incidentally, bark beetles are really thinning out the CO forests, as they did not long ago in NM. The Winter Park area is particularly hard hit.)

This is new country for me. From Vail Pass it's 150 miles of gentle downhill all the way to Grand Junction. You could put it in neutral and coast. I-70 parallels the CO River, which last we saw at Grand Lake, for much of this distance, most spectacularly in the Glenwood Canyon. Much of I-70 is elevated here, as you see in cities. Here's a website pic.

We spent the night at the GJ KOA, then headed south Thursday morning toward Silverton, 120 miles away. At Montrose we took a side trip to see the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. That gave us some practice in driving Tuzi up a narrow, steep road, which we would soon put to use. We disconnected the PT and took the scenic drive along the canyon's south rim.

This is an impressive canyon, narrow, steep and deep, as the following pictures show. Maximum depth is nearly 2800 ft.

Here's a website picture:

These aren't

We had lunch in Montrose, then headed south, over the Red Mountain Pass between Ouray and Silverton, via the Million Dollar Highway. This road is carved into the side of steep mountain slopes, as seen in the following internet picture.

This picture doesn't do the road justice. There are no guard rails because there are no shoulders in which to plant them. And there are probably no good pictures because there's no place to stop and take them. You hug the yellow center-line and try not to glance at the waiting chasm just beyond the outside white line. There was also repaving going on that required us to squeeze up against the side of the mountain for a sizable distance. Anyhow, Tuzi did well, going up the mountain at an acceptable (slow) speed and engine-braking safely down the other side. I did clip a couple of cones that had been set up a bit too far into my lane, but no harm, no foul.

Here's a website picture of Red Mountain.

Got to Silverton in mid-afternoon, got parked and fed, found Dick Reinert who has been here all week, with his son, Scott, who will be playing in the Brass Band concerts. We'll be here three nights.

Gentlemen, start your horns.
Rob and Susie

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Winter Park - 2

Tuesday continued fair and fine and we made this our Grand Lake and Rocky Mountain National Park day. Grand Lake, on the west side of the park, is about 45 miles north and east of WP.

First on our schedule of activities was a short hike up a stream that empties into Grand Lake (the largest natural lake in CO). Here's Archer Falls and a group picture at the falls overlook.

And here's Grand Lake itself. Water from here gives rise to the Colorado River.

After lunch in the village of Grand Lake, very scenic, we drove into the National Park and up to the top and Trail Ridge Drive. From the Visitors Center some of us walked on up to a knob that is at 12,000 ft. elevation. Been there. Got the pictures. (Mike and Karen were there, too. Unfortunately, didn't get their pictures.)

On the return we stopped by Lake Irene, lovely, then took an ice cream break in Grand Lake.

Here's a family picture of Valerie, Malia, and Jeff. Focus??

Then it was back to the cabin to cook up our remaining hamburgers and start preparing for departure the next day.

Rob and Susie

Winter Park, CO - 1

Winter Park is an Aspen/Vail sort of ski resort, full of swanky condos and beautiful mountain homes. And more being built -- a very large set of hotels and apartments at the base of the ski runs. Jeff's boss, Tim, has a three-level house in the town of Winter Park, all nicely furnished and set up to easily accommodate our group of eight -- one family unit per level.

Sunday morning we took in a arts and craft fair, then got back to the house in time to welcome Kevin, Kellie, Andrew, Daniel, Christine, and Jan, still in CO. They had spent Saturday in the mountains and we had invited them to stop by for a cookout. Here are a few scenes. I apologize for not getting any pictures of Jan -- maybe Mike or Jeff can supply some of their photos for a future update. Anyhow, had a fine meal then took a walk along a stream that runs through WP.
Here are a few pix:

Christine, Kevin, Karen, Mike, Jeff

Jeff, Kellie, Mike

The next generation: Malia, Jason, Andrew, Daniel, Christine

Jason and Malia find rock with hole -- You'll see more of that hat!

After the McCubbins family departed in late afternoon to return to Castle Rock, some of us took a short hike near the ski area. A couple of scenes:

It had been cloudy and a little rainy on Sunday. Monday dawned fair and mild, so we decided to spend most of the day at the ski resort, with their alpine slide as the main attraction. They have a pair of nice long tracks, you can go really fast, and only once or twice did any of us get stuck behind a slow rider. Lines were not long, either, most of the time. The summer season is nearing an end and school has started in many areas.


Susie and Rob

Colorado, August 2008

Dear Family and Friends

I'm late starting this blog -- having too much fun.

Early in the year we started planning a Easterling family get-together in CO. I had the convention of the American Statistical Association to attend in Denver the first week of August, which meant a chance to see Jeff, Valerie, and Malia. Jeff came up with the idea of renting his boss's cabin/house in Winter Park (a couple of hours from Denver) for a few days after the convention and having Mike, Karen, and Jason come to CO for the occasion. Susie and I would be in Tuzigoot and after Winter Park grandson Jason would continue touring CO with us, travel back to Cedar Crest, then I would fly him home to Cary, NC. About two-thirds through, all is going according to schedule.

We drove to Denver on Friday, 8/1. About 430 miles, which is longer than we like to do in a day, but nearly all interstate, so not too bad. We parked at Lake Chatfield State Park, only about 10 minutes away from Jeff's home in Highlands Ranch, on the SW side of Denver. Malia spent some time with us at the lake on Saturday.

Sunday the ASA meeting started and Jeff and I took the light-rail train downtown to register and attend. You can read hundreds of presentation abstracts at this site. Mine is here. If you'd like a copy of my powerpoint slides, just let me know.

Jeff and I continued the daily commute mostly through Thursday. Susie spent Tuesday with Malia and they made chocolate chip cookies that we enjoyed for a week thereafter.

About a year ago, my nephew, Kevin McCubbins, who is the son of Judy's sister, Jan, moved to Castle Rock, CO, a few miles south of Highlands Ranch. Wednesday night we went there for a picnic and country music concert in the park. Kevin and Kellie have three children and the bonus was that Jan was in town for a visit (she lives in MO). The concert was cut short by rain, but we had a great time back at K&K's house visiting and being entertained by the kids. It's really special to watch our kids having and raising kids.

Now, it gets a little complicated. We wanted to stay with Mike, Jeff, and families in the Winter Park cabin, so we needed to park Tuzigoot someplace. The driveway at the cabin wasn't big enough. There were no RV parks in Winter Park (go figure). Following Winter Park, our plan was to drive to Silverton, in SW CO, for the weekend. Silverton has an annual brass band festival and friend, Scott Reinert, always participates (he plays horn) and various members of the Reinert clan attend. I went about nine years ago and have wanted to go back ever since, so this was finally the time. To get from Winter Park to Silverton, we needed to go west on I-70, so it didn't make sense to leave Tuzigoot at Chatfield. Jeff found an RV park in Idaho Springs, which is on I-70, near where you turn off I-70 on US 40 north to go over Berthoud Pass to get to Winter Park.

I told you that to tell you this: We drove to Idaho Springs Friday morning (only about an hour's drive from Chatfield) and parked there for the day and night. Saturday morning we closed up Tuzi, packed up the PT, and drove to Winter Park. Found the cabin and unloaded.

Meanwhile, Jeff and Valerie, in two cars, picked up Mike and family at the airport and headed to Winter Park, arriving about an hour after we did. Winter Park report and pictures in the next posting.


Rob and Susie