Tag Archives: Colorado

Raton Pass Scenic Overlook

Standard

I was driving. We were headed north on I-25, on a spur of the moment trip from Las Vegas, NM to Trinidad, CO.

I’d been on this stretch of interstate once before, but I didn’t remember too much about it. The Man kept talking about the beauty of the Raton Pass. He was excited to see it again.

According to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raton_Pass),

Ratón Pass (7834 feet or 2388 meters elevation) is a mountain pass on the ColoradoNew Mexico border in the western United States. Ratón is Spanish for “mouse.” It is located on the eastern side of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains between Trinidad, Colorado and Raton, New Mexico, approximately 100 miles (160 km) northeast of Santa Fe. The pass crosses the line of volcanic mesas that extends east from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains along the state line, and furnishes the most direct land route between the valley of the Arkansas River to the north and the upper valley of the Canadian River, leading to Santa Fe, to the south.

The pass is a historically significant landmark on the Santa Fe Trail, a major 19th-century settlement route between Kansas City, Missouri and Santa Fe. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960 for this association.

The Raton Pass is at an elevation just over 7,800 feet.

The really beautiful mountains were to the west. They were snow covered and wonderful. I wanted to see more of them.

Can we stop? Can we stop? Baby, can we stop? The Man chanted.

He’s been known to pull off on the shoulder of the road–any road,  highway, interstate, any road–to take a photo. I’m a bit more safety conscious. I don’t like to stop on the side of a busy interstate or a curvy mountain road (or a curvy mountain busy interstate), but I will, it that’s the only way to get a photo the man or I (or both of us) want. In this case, I’d seen a sign for a scenic overlook and decided it would be much safer for us to stop there.

Scenic overlook, Baby, I told him. We’ll stop at the scenic overlook.

I took the scenic overlook exit and was tremendously disappointed to find we could not see the huge, snow-covered mountains.

Why didn’t they put this overlook where we could see those other mountains? I asked rhetorically.

Oh well, the scenery seen from the scenic overlook was lovely. The Man and I stayed about ten minutes, taking photos of the land and each other, then got back on the road. We were soon in Trinidad.

Panoramic view from the Raton Pass Scenic Overlook

I took all of the photos in this post.

Read more about the Raton Pass and its history here: https://coloradoencyclopedia.org/article/raton-pass-0.

 

 

Wild, Wild Horses

Standard

I’d always wanted to see the wild horses living on the Colorado side of the San Luis Valley. I’d made the trek from Taos, NM to San Luis, CO (and beyond) on NM Hwy 522/CO Hwy 159 several times, but I’d never seen a single wild horse. The only indication of them were the yellow roadside signs proclaiming “open range” and a silhouette of a horse letting drivers know it wasn’t cows they needed to be concerned with.

The Man and I had been staying at our friend’s place 40 miles north of Taos for a few days when we decided to make a quick trip to San Luis, the oldest town in Colorado. It had been cold the last two nights, and the sky was overcast when we hit the road, but no rain or snow was falling.

We passed into Colorado and hadn’t been in the state long when there they were! There was a small herd (six or eight individuals) of wild horses on the road and on its shoulder.

Oh Baby! We’re so lucky! I exclaimed to the man. I’ve always wanted to see the wild horses, but this is my first time!

Pull over so we can take pictures, The Man implored.

There are a lot of reason I love The Man. He is a kind, caring person who makes me laugh. He is patient with my moodiness and terrible driving. He’s smart, enjoys reading, and encourages my creative endeavors. Also? He likes to stop and take photos of interesting roadside attractions as much as I do.

I carefully maneuvered the van to the shoulder of the road. The horses moved nervously, and the ones in the middle of the road shuffled to the side. It was good they’d moved because a little sports car came flying by way too fast right about then. From the opposite direction, a large pickup pulling a 5th wheel slowed to a crawl so as not to spook the horses. Some people got a clue, and some people don’t.

According to the Fence Post website (http://www.thefencepost.com/news/hidden-treasure-of-costillia-county/),

At the far southern end of the San Luis Valley in…is the hidden treasure of a thriving herd of mustangs.

These horses are not pure mustangs but are more closely related than the wild horses of the managed areas of Colorado.

The bands of horses in Costillia County date back 400 years and are not protected by the Bureau of Land Management, so they are not subjected to culling and rescue operations. These horses still roam on original Spanish land grants dating back to the 1600s and not on BLM land. The open range bordering the Rio Grande River and the vast plains and mesas of the San Luis Valley provide 60,000 acres of natural habitat for wild mustangs to move freely in and to thrive.

Once I could see no other cars on the highway, I slowly moved the van closer to the horses until I could see they were getting nervous. I turned off the engine. and The Man got out to take his photos. When he returned, it was my turn.

I walked slowly toward the horses, trying not to spook them. I didn’t want them to trot off before I could get even one photo, but I also didn’t want to upset them with my presence. After all, I was the interloper.

The horses were big, stunningly beautiful creatures, mostly brown, but with black tails and manes. They were such a joy to see, walking freely through their world.

The photos I got of the wild horses are not great. I wish the camera on my phone took better photos. I wish the lighting had been better. I wish I could have gotten closer to the horses or that my camera did a better job of zooming in. However, overall, I was pleased to get any photos at all.

Getting photos of the horses was not the most important part of my day. The most important part of my day was seeing those majestic, free beasts in real life, out in the open, living their lives a few yards from me.

I took the photos of horses in this post.

Hemp

Standard

Hemp’s been on my mind lately, as I am making and selling jewelry made from the fiber. A couple of years ago, I did some research and wrote down hemp talking points so I could share information with people who were curious or had misconceptions about it. I’ll share that information here, along with new details I recently learned.

Many people think hemp is the same as marijuana and can get a person high. (Read about my experiences with people who want to know if they can get high from my hemp jewelry here: https://throwingstoriesintotheether.wordpress.com/2015/04/17/can-you-smoke-it and here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/12/09/selling-hemp-again/

A  state of Colorado website (https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/agplants/difference-between-hemp-and-marijuana), defines

Industrial hemp as ‘a plant of the genus Cannabis and any part of that plant, whether growing or not, containing a Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of no more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis.

According to an article in The New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/07/nyregion/cannabis-construction-entrepreneurs-use-hemp-in-home-building.html?_r=0), “That is compared with 5 to 10 percent [of THC) found in the hallucinogenic and medicinal varieties.” When comparing hemp and marijuana in the same article, James Savage, who started a company to create building materials derived from cannabis, said

“It’s like the difference between a wolf and a poodle… Same species, totally different animal.”

(The same comparison was made in the documentary Bringing It Home, which I highly recommend to anyone interested in learning a whole lot more about industrial hemp. To learn more about Bringing It Home, go to bringingithomemovie.com. To watch the movie’s trailer and to purchase or rent online streaming, go here: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/bringingithomemovie.)

Even though hemp and marijuana both come from Cannabis sativa L., the varieties that make industrial hemp products and those that produce marijuana are distinctly, scientifically different and are cultivated in different ways. Hemp products such as the cord used to make jewelry comes from the outer filaments of hemp plants, while marijuana comes from the flowers and leaves of a different variety of plants.

Despite these differences, in recent years, The United States has been the only industrialized nation to refuse to distinguish hemp from marijuana. Because of this refusal to distinguish the two plants, when folks ask me where I get my hemp cord, I have to explain it is imported from another country because hemp is not legally grown and processed in the U.S. According to http://www.hempuniversity.com/hemp-university/growing-hemp/countries-growing-hemp/, some of the countries growing hemp that might be made into the cord I use include Hungary, India, and Poland.

The U.S. is (slowly) beginning to distinguish hemp from marijuana. According to https://www.google.com/search?q=which+u.s.+states+allow+licensure+to+grow+hemp&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8, “Six states (Hawaii, Kentucky, Indiana, Minnesota, North Dakota, Tennessee) in 2015 had hemp research crops in accordance with section 7606 of the Farm Bill and state law. Three states (Colorado, Oregon and Vermont) in 2015 licensed or registered farmers to grow hemp under state law.”

Once Colorado legalized recreational marijuana use, many people assumed I was now getting my hemp cord directly from that state. According to http://www.hempuniversity.com/hemp-university/growing-hemp/countries-growing-hemp/,

In 2013, after the legalization of marijuana in the state, several farmers in Colorado planted and harvested several acres of hemp, bringing in the first hemp crop in the United States in over half a century.

However, just because the state of Colorado registers hemp growers and inspects their crops to make sure the THC levels are no greater than 0.3%, a statement from the Colorado Industrial Hemp Program in February of 2014  (https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/agplants/industrial-hemp) says

The State of Colorado has no jurisdiction over many other factors that producers are faced with. While Colorado legalized the production of Industrial Hemp (Cannabis spp), growing it is still considered illegal by the Federal Law.

The following issues may cause concern for those interested in growing this crop in Colorado.

  • Seed Procurement/Seed Quality – Seed that exists in Colorado may be variable and have unknown THC levels…Importation of viable industrial hemp seed across State lines and Country boundaries is illegal under the Federal Controlled Substances Act. [Hemp seeds already in Colorado may be too strong to be legal. It’s illegal to bring hemp seeds across state lines and into Colorado.]

  • Pesticides – There are not any pesticides (herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, etc.) currently registered for use on…Industrial Hemp [sic]…due to the predominant federal nature of pesticide regulation.

  • Federal farm programs such as crop insurance, farm loans and conservation reserve may be jeopardized if industrial hemp is planted… [A farmer might literally lose the farm for growing hemp.]

  • Banking – … banks including state-chartered banks may be reluctant to provide services to Cannabis growers for fear of being prosecuted for federal laws and regulations violations. [Farmers growing hemp might not be able to get loans.]

  • Processing – Colorado’s industrial hemp rules state that industrial hemp producers must provide documentation of in state processing as part of registration. It is unknown at this time how many processing facilities will be available in Colorado at time of harvest. [Hemp farmers can’t be registered if they can’t show their hemp will be processed in the state. Hemp processing facilities may not exist in Colorado when the hemp is harvested.)

So, no, just because hemp is being grown (legally by state law, but illegally by federal law), in Colorado does not mean I can pick up cord made from hemp grown there. I will be totally happy when I can buy cord from hemp grown and processed in the United States, but that day has not yet come.

Hopefully the days of domestic hemp production comes soon, because hemp is a great crop for many reasons.

A hemp crop grows to maturity in about 100 days and produces three to six tons of dry fiber per acre. Hemp plants reach heights of six to twelve feet.

Hemp cord is made from hemp fibers, the long, strong outer filaments of the hemp plant. This fiber is the strongest and one of the most durable natural fiber known. Hemp also has better anti-bacterial properties than any other natural fiber, making it extremely resistant to mold, mildew, and rot. Finally, hemp is flame retardant and is not affected by UV rays.

Hemp is an environmentally friendly crop. Hemp plants flourish with minimal use of pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides. Hemp is planted tightly together with no room or light leftover for weed growth.

Not only does hemp grow well without chemicals, it also improves the soil. A large percentage of nutrients that hemp uses for growth are returned to the soil when the leaves fall, reducing the need for fertilizers and increasing the quality of the soil. Growing industrial hemp restores PH balance to soil and enables other crops to grow on soil that has been acidified by acid rain.

Evidence suggests that hemp cultivation can lift heavy metals from polluted soil. Hemp cleans the soil by absorbing and trapping pollutants ranging from radiation and pesticides to toxins leaching from landfills. According to http://www.hempuniversity.com/hemp-university/growing-hemp/countries-growing-hemp/, Poland has “demonstrated the benefits of using hemp to cleanse soils contaminated by heavy metals,” but gives no further information.

During my research, I found researcher Przemyslaw Baraniecki was associated with these assertions about the soil cleansing properties of hemp. I did not find any information–or at least no information I could understand–explaining how exactly, scientifically, hemp absorbs and traps pollutants. Also, if hemp absorbs and traps pollutants, does that mean those pollutants are present in the end product made from hemp? I don’t know if I want to wear a necklace or a t-shirt made from hemp full of radiation or pesticides or toxins. Hopefully the hemp neutralizes pollutants, but as I am not a scientist, I’m not sure how exactly that would work.

Finally, not only is hemp drought resistance, hemp crops use a lot less water than other crops grown for similar purposes. For example, while cotton requires about 1400 gallons of water for every pound produced, the production of an equivalent amount of hemp requires about half the amount of water. Also, ” hemp produces about 200% – 250% more fibre [sic] in the same amount of land compared to cotton.” (Information in this paragraph from http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/07/17/hemp-vs-cotton-the-ultimate-showdown/.)

I hope I’ve increased your knowledge of hemp. I also hope you will choose hemp next time it is an option.

When I looked at my original talking points, I found that I had not attributed a source to each piece of information. I do however, have a list of sources [website links] from which I gathered the facts.

www.cannabisculture.com

www.puresativa.com/article.php?article=67

www.bringingithomemovie.com/industrial-hemp

https://www.sativabags.com/HempInfo

Two of the links in my notes were no longer valid. One was totally useless, so I didn’t include it. I couldn’t get to the specific link of the second one, but I was able to give the site’s homepage. Sources for new information are included in the body of the text.

 

Hard Times on the Highway

Standard

I was back to selling jewelry on the side of the highway at a small arts and crafts market near a large natural tourist attraction. I’d missed the summer crowd, and this bunch of mostly old, mostly stuffy visitors was not my target audience. Most of these folks had no personality; the ones who did have a personality, well, their personality type was “asshole”.

One morning a man strolled up to my table. I saw him looking at the rocks, so I said to him (as I say to almost everyone who looks at my rocks), Let me know if you have any questions about my shiny rocks. Usually people chuckle or say thank you, but this guy said (in a snotty tone of voice), I have a rock business myself. I don’t know if he meant, Don’t try to hustle me because I know about rocks and their prices or if he was trying to tell me he wasn’t going to buy rocks because he already had a bunch, but he came across as a real jerk.

I just said (coldly), That’s nice. 

Then he picked up a piece of skeletal quartz and demanded, Where did you get this? 

IMG_3704

This is the piece of skeletal quartz the jerk man picked up. It may be difficult to see in this photos, but there are three clear quartz points that formed around a chunk of quartz.

I said sweetly, From my rock guy, even though I knew he wanted to know where on the earth the rock was originally found.

No. he said. Where did it come from?

I don’t know, I said (because I didn’t, although since then I’ve been told it came from Colorado).

By that point I was 97% sure the man was not going to buy anything from me, and I was 100% sure I didn’t want him to have that beautiful piece of quartz. If he had asked the price, I would have said $50, even though I usually ask $20 for it. I didn’t want him to have it , but I’d want $50 more than I’d want to keep the stone from him.

On another morning, two women and a man stopped at my table. The man was admiring the winter hats I’d made. He asked one of the women if she wanted one.

When have you ever known me to wear a hat? she snapped at him.

She stalked off, but the man and the other woman stayed at my table. The man asked the price of the hats, and I told him they were only $10.

Where are y’all from? I asked them. Due to his accent and the first woman’s attitude, I wasn’t surprised when he said Chicago.

I commented on how cold it gets in Chicago and said the lady must be really tough if she never wears a hat during a Chicago winter.

She’s tough as nails, the man said.

He asked me if men wear my hats. I said yes and told him about the man who’d bought one the day before.

He liked the hat my styrofoam model was wearing, so I told him he was welcome to try it on.

IMG_3698

The man from Chicago liked the hat the model is wearing.

He pulled it on while I got the mirror.

I told him the hat looked really good on him. I wasn’t only trying to make a sale; the hat did look really good on him. He said he wanted it so he could keep his ears warm while walking his dog this winter.

With the hat on his head, he called to the woman who’d walked away and was now three tables down the line of vendors, How do I look?

She replied immediately, after barely looking at him, Stupid!

Wow! I said. Is that your wife?

Yes, he said. We’ve been married 30 years.

Wow! I said again. “Y’all must really love each other.

He called out to his wife again. Should I get this hat?

She looked totally disgusted and said, You’re the one who’d have to wear it.

He didn’t buy the hat.

I thanked him for his admiration of my work, and he said, We haven’t left yet. He said if his wife bought something, he’s be back, tit for tat, but I didn’t see him again.

A few days later, a young man and woman stopped at my table. The woman was wearing a pink hoodie with “Vinton, Louisiana” printed on the chest. Since I have family in that area, I asked her if she was from Vinton, Louisiana. She said no, she wasn’t from there. But there’s a pit there, she said. She turned around and there was a rooster screen printed on the back of the hoodie.

Cockfighting, you mean? I asked her.

Yeh, she said. My dad made his way down there…

Whenever they asked me the price of something, I added a few dollars–let’s call it a cruelty to animals tax–but they didn’t buy anything. It wasn’t until after they walked away that I realized I should have said, That’s barbaric, as soon as she confirmed we were talking about cock fighting.

The most annoying jerk was a young guy. He was clean-cut and looked totally straight, but the young woman he was with had long dreadlocks. It was the end of the day, and I had all of my rocks and most of my jewelry packed up.

They expressed interest in my highest priced necklaces.

Pendants of wire wrapped stones by James Smith. Hemp work by me.

These are the necklaces the couple was interested in.

I told them the pendants on the necklaces were made by a young local artist who charges $45 for them; I offered to let them have an entire necklace for $40.

The young guy said, They don’t charge that much at the expensive stores in town.

I replied (in a calm, neutral tone of voice), I don’t know where you’ve been shopping, but I know this guy charges $45 for his pendants.

The woman liked the lepidolite necklace, so I gave her the spiel.

IMG_3690

This is the lepidolite necklace the woman liked. In real life, the stone is a deeper purple. Please forgive my overexposed photo.

That’s lepidolite. It’s a local stone, mined in this county. It contains lithium, so it’s good for lifting depression and stabilizing mood, and it helps with insomnia.

The young man kind of snorted and said, I’ve never heard of it before, as if I were lying to them about a stone so they would buy it.

Sure, there are people who would lie about a stone to get someone to buy it, and the guy had no way of knowing that I’m not one of those unscrupulous people. But this guy was acting as if because he’d never heard of lepidolite, it couldn’t possibly exist. I hear about new rocks all the time. I never think a stone can’t be real just because I’ve never heard of it.

The couple wandered off, and I continued packing.

Soon they were back, and the woman was looking at the necklace with the ledpidolite pendant again. I hadn’t made much money that day, and one more sale before I left would have been nice, so I told her she could have it for $30. The man was standing next to her, and he asked, Would you take $20?

I flatly replied, No.

It was cold and windy, and the man left to get his coat.

I told the woman, For $30, you’re getting all my work for free and $15 off the pendant.

The woman also looked at a short necklace with a pendant made with a local amazonite. I’d done the pendant’s simple wrap and was asking only $15 for the necklace. I told her the price and said the rock had been found locally.

The man walked back up to the table, and the woman showed him the necklace with the amazonite pendant.

That looks like just a rock, he said,

That’s because it is a rock, you idiot, is what I wanted to say, but instead I said, It’s a natural stone. It hasn’t been polished.

The man told the woman she should only get it if it were the best necklace she’d ever seen and she was totally excited about it. She put down the necklace, and they were off again.

I finished packing quickly, hoping they’d come back wanting the $15 necklace so I could tell them they were too late and had missed their chance. If they’d wanted the lepidolite necklace for $30? Well, I guess I would have unpacked that one.

(I took all the photos in this post)

To read more about customers, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/02/05/we-feel-for-your-situation/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/02/10/red-letter-day-2/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/09/26/turtle-ass/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/03/17/how-much-are-these/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/12/09/selling-hemp-again/ or here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/12/14/mean-daddy/

Ave Maria Shrine

Standard
I took this photo of the Ave Maria Shrine in Trinidad, CO.

I took this photo of the Ave Maria Shrine in Trinidad, CO. The chapel is in the building in the background. Notice the giant blue rosary under the words “Ave Maria.”

I visited the Ave Maria Shrine in Trinidad, Colorado twice in September 2014 when I was in town to see friends. I’d seen the shrine listed as one of the town’s attractions but hadn’t sought it out yet when my friend and I stumbled upon it. We were heading east on Benedicta Avenue, going to the senior living center so my friend could drop off a job application, when we saw the shrine rising out of the trees. We had no pressing obligations after dropping off the job application, so we decided to take some time to explore.

There are lots of statues of the Virgin Mary at the Ave Maria shrine. I took this photo of one of them.

There are lots of statues of the Virgin Mary at the Ave Maria shrine. I took this photo of one of them.

From the street, visitors climb a series of steps up to the chapel at the very top. There are several statues of the Virgin Mary between the steps at the bottom and the chapel at the top, giving pilgrims many opportunities to stop and pray or reflect quietly. Apparently the chapel itself is not open at any set times.The Holy Trinity Parish website (http://trinidadcatholic.org/gpage5.html) says

To visit the inside of the chapel, please call our Trinidad Area Catholic Pastoral Center at (719) 846-3369, extension 14, Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, except holidays. We will try to get someone to open up for you. It is best to make arrangements some days in advance.

My friend and I went all the way to the top and were able to peek into the chapel through the metal screen over the windows. The chapel is small, but very beautiful, and we both wanted to go inside and look at it more closely.

Some of the statues at the shrine have been damaged, perhaps due to age, or perhaps from vandalism. I took this photo of a statue of Mary missing her hands and nose.

Some of the statues at the shrine are damaged, perhaps due to being aged by the elements, or perhaps from vandalism. I took this photo of a statue of Mary missing her hands and nose.

Like just about everything of interest I encountered in Trinidad, the Ave Maria Shrine has a legend to go with it. According the the aforementioned Holy Trinity Parish website,

     In 1908 a Trinidad physician, was leaving Mount San Rafael Hospital, after all night duty. It was already dawn, and although a snowstorm was in progress, he was persistent to make it home.  As he was leaving the hospital he noticed a glimmer of light flickering on the hill directly behind the hospital.  At first, he gave it little attention, believing the spray of snow flurries were creating an illusion.  Then the possibility of someone hurt or stranded captured his attention.  Even at the early morning hour and in the middle of a snowstorm, the good doctor ascended the hill where the light originated.  The frozen ground and steep slope made the climb very hazardous in his pursuit to reach the small clearing.
Upon reaching the clearing, he was spellbound at the sight of a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with a lit candle flickering at its base.  Awed by the vision of such a beautiful statue, he reached out and touched its outstretched hand while calling out to see if anyone was nearby. After calling out for several minutes and no one answered, he decided to stay by the statue until daybreak.
When word of the doctors discovery spread throughout the community, reactions were varied.  some believed that some person had to have been on the hill, while others were skeptical as to how a 250 pound statue could have been left on the hill, kept a candle lit during a blizzard and then disappear into thin air.  But the more faithful residents accepted this as a divine sign from God that a shrine should be built in Her honor on this mountain.
The early settlers erected a small lava rock shrine, where Our Lady was placed, and the faithful made daily pilgrimages and offered prayers to God through here intersession.

The information offered  is a little confusing, perhaps mostly due to the poor writing skills of whoever wrote down the legend. Who was the doctor? Didn’t he have a name? If it was “already dawn” when he left the hospital, why does the story say “he decided to stay by the statue until daybreak”? And what exactly disappeared into thin air? The 250 pound statue? The person who hauled the statue up the hill then left it there? Ah, mysteries.

The website also gives factual information about the chapel.

Plans for the present chapel were begun in 1934. The chapel was built through the efforts of a group of local Catholics much devoted to Mary. They were known as the Circolo Mariano. They worked under the leadership of Rosaria Vecchio. In 1962, vandals destroyed the statue., breaking it into 279 pieces.  It was almost a total loss, but thanks to the patience and skilled hands of Sam Arguello and his son Anthony, it was restored and placed inside the Shrine, above the altar, where it remains today.  Over the years many such faithful persons have helped develop and maintain the shrine and its surroundings. Many of them are commemorated by name both inside and outside the chapel. This shrine continues to be developed and maintained through the generosity of many persons both in this area and visitors from many states and other countries.

I took this photo of a plaque at the shrine.

I took this photo of a plaque at the shrine.

After seeing peeking at the chapel through the windows, my friend and I and my friend’s girlfriend wanted to go inside the chapel. I called the phone number on the Shrine’s website and made an appointment to see the chapel. We were supposed to be met by one or more of the parish’s maintenance workers who would unlock the door to the chapel, but no one ever showed up to let us in. We were really disappointed. I wish the man I talked to in the parish office had just told me no instead of saying someone would let us in but not making it happen. No one ever called to apologize, and I didn’t call back to ask any questions.

I took this photo of another of the many statues of Mary at the Ave Maria shrine.

I took this photo of another of the many statues of Mary at the Ave Maria shrine. I think this one was behind glass.

The shrine is very tranquil, and I enjoyed my visits very much. I recommend it as a stop for anyone visiting Trinidad, but especially for folks who are big fans of the Virgin Mary.

Ave Maria Shrine, Trinidad, CO. Photo by me.

This photo I took of the Ave Maria shrine in Trinidad, CO really shows the giant rosary.

Trinidad Train

Standard
I took this photo of Engine 638, on display in Trinidad, Colorado.

I took this photo of Engine 638, on display in Trinidad, Colorado.

In Trinidad, Colorado, one of the things to see is the train on display at the edge of the Safeway (supermarket) parking lot. The train consists of Engine 638, a coal car, a passenger car, and a caboose.

I took this photo of the train's coal car. You can see in this photo that the train is behind a chain-link fence. No climbing on the train!

I took this photo of the train’s coal car. You can see in this photo that the train is behind a chain-link fence. No climbing on the train!

I took this photo of the train's caboose. What's a caboose, Daddy?

I took this photo of the train’s caboose. What’s a caboose, Daddy?

Right there with the train are flags representing all 50 United States, in the order in which the states were admitted to the union. It’s fun to look at the flags and decide which are cool and which are stupid.

I took this photo of another view of Engine 638.

I took this photo of another view of Engine 638.

Can You Smoke It?

Standard

Older (55+) white guys love to ask me if they can smoke my hemp jewelry. No, it’s not every older white guy who asks, Can I smoke it? when I tell him (and usually his wife) that all my jewelry is hand made from hemp, but it happens enough that I’m no longer surprised.

I used to laugh nervously when I was asked the question. Then I moved on to two stock answers.

Answer #1: You can smoke it if you want, but it’s not going to get you high, if that’s what you’re looking for. It will probably only make you cough.

Answer #2 (particularly effective when selling in Northern New Mexico): If you’re looking to get high, just go to Colorado. (Sometimes I helpfully point in the direction of Colorado.) Marijuana is legal there.

Since seeing a documentary about industrial hemp called Bringing It Home (http://bringingithomemovie.com/), I now have a new answer.

I matter-of-factly tell the joker that as the documentary explains, marijuana is to hemp as wolves are to poodles–related, but not the same. That usually shuts the old guy up. Typically, old guys shut up when their unfunny jokes are met with coldly stated facts.

If the man (and his wife) seem open to it, I’ll tell them more about industrial hemp. I’ll them them how farmers in China, the UK, and Canada are making money off of hemp that is sent to the U.S. after processing, money that could be earned by struggling U.S. farmers, if only growing hemp weren’t off limits to most of them. I’ll tell them about hempcrete, a nontoxic building material that doesn’t cause sick-building syndrome and actually helps alleviate it by allowing volatile organic compounds to off-gas through the walls. I’ll tell them that it’s cost prohibitive to ship hempcrete to the United States, but that it’s illegal to produce it here.

The $5 I paid to watch Bringing It Home was a wise business decision, if only because now I have an educational answer to a stupid question.

I only wish I’d taken this photo.

To get more facts about industrial hemp, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/11/19/hemp-2/.

To read about other customers acting weird around my hemp jewelry, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/12/09/selling-hemp-again/.