Saturday, July 8, 2017

My Creative Journey

Erethizon dorsatum - (Porcupine) by Michael R. Ritt, 1977

I believe that everyone has a need to express themselves creatively. For an expansion on this, see my post about “Why I Write Poetry.” I have chosen writing as my creative outlet, and as I often will say in my bios, I write everything – short stories, poems, essays, shopping lists, you name it.

But there was a time, when I was much younger, when I used to enjoy drawing and painting. This was back in my high school days, before cell phones or microwaves. Way back when disco was popular. Almost all of my art work has disappeared over the years, but a while back, I discovered a few that have survived as proof that I can suck at more than one creative pursuit at a time. (A few of these rare works of art appear in this post.)

Farmer by Michael R. Ritt, 1978

Eventually, I stopped drawing and started composing poems and short stories instead. This was partly due to the fact that I have a brother who is an extremely talented artist who actually knew what he was doing, but mostly it was because I enjoyed reading so much that it was a natural segway into writing. I discovered that I could paint pictures with my words.

Aslan from The Chronicles of Narnia

There may come a day when I decide to start drawing again. You know, that elusive “someday” when I have more time to do the things that seem to be a luxury now. But I still have a lot to learn about writing, and I have some goals that I would like to reach before I trade in my word processor for a sketch pad.


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The View From 14,271 Feet Is…SPECTACULAR!

Here I am sitting on the top of Mount Evans
We recently visited our sons in Colorado, and while there, my redheaded sweetheart, Tami, and I were able to cross an item off of our bucket lists. The two of us, along with our sons, Robert, David and Lucas climbed to the top of Mount Evans. At 14,271 feet, Mount Evans is the twelfth highest mountain in Colorado and one of the fifty-eight summits in the Centennial state that rise up over 14,000 feet to tower over the Rocky Mountain range. Known as a “Fourteener” by the locals, Mount Evans dominates the skyline in the Denver area and can be seen as far to the east as 100 miles away.

To say that we “climbed” Mount Evans is a little misleading. We only had to climb the last couple of hundred feet, because there is a road that goes up almost to the summit. The Mount Evans Scenic Byway actually terminates in a parking lot just below the summit at somewhere around 14, 000 feet, making it the highest paved road in North America.

Our son, Lucas, standing near the top of Mount Evans. Summit Lake can be seen in the distance.

Driving the scenic byway itself is not something for the faint of heart. The road is narrow with no guardrails along its path to keep you from falling off as its switchbacks zig-zag up the mountain. In some places along the edge you can witness the asphalt crumbling away to drop thousands of feet down the steep sides.

My redheaded sweetheart, Tami, with some of the local residents - a herd of Bighorn Sheep.

Once you get to the summit, however, you are greeted with views that few people ever get to see in their lifetimes. And if you are as fortunate as we were on the day that we visited, you may get to see some of the local residents – big horn sheep and mountain goats. We also saw a huge herd of elk grazing in a mountain meadow, marmots, picas, birds that we had never seen before and eagles. And the different alpine flowers that were in bloom were so numerous that I couldn’t begin to list them.

It was an awe-inspiring experience and one that will be hard to top (pun intended). Now that I have crossed that one off of my bucket list, I can move on to the next item – playing professional football for the Green Bay packers. That one may be a little more difficult, but you never know. They may have a spot on the roster for a fifty-seven year old, overweight, asthmatic with bad knees.





Monday, July 3, 2017

Who's Really Buried In Buffalo Bill's Grave?

The author standing in front of Buffalo Bill's grave
On a recent trip to Colorado, I took the opportunity to visit the grave site of that iconic western figure, William Fredrick Cody, better known as Buffalo Bill. The grave is prominently placed on top of Lookout Mountain outside of Golden, Colorado.

Rising 7,377 feet, Lookout Mountain is part of the eastern foothills of the Rocky Mountains, and is located about two miles southwest of Golden, Colorado. Aptly named, from its summit you have an imposing view of a large part of Colorado’s eastern plains, including an impressive view of the city of Denver twelve miles to the east.

Buffalo Bill passed away from kidney failure on January 10th, 1917, while visiting his sister in Denver. The first draft of his will indicated that he wanted to be buried on Cedar Mountain near the town that he founded – Cody, Wyoming. However, in the final draft of his will, Cody had changed his choice of his eternal resting place to Lookout Mountain.

In January of 1917, the road to Lookout Mountain was impassible because of the snow, so the undertaker in Denver kept Cody’s body on ice until June when the roads could clear and the summit to Lookout Mountain could be reached.

There has been some ill-will, and not a little controversy, between Colorado and their neighbor to the north over the burial of Buffalo Bill Cody. There were rumors that some fearless Wyoming patriots stole Cody’s body from the mortuary and replaced it with the body of a vagrant who looked like Buffalo Bill. This is highly unlikely and these rumors were never taken very serious. However, other rumors did have more merit.

In 1948, members of the American Foreign Legion in Cody, Wyoming offered a $10,000.00 reward to anyone who could steal Cody’s body and return it to Wyoming. This prompted the state of Colorado to call out the National Guard to be stationed around the grave site to protect it from being pilfered.

As recently as 2006, Wyoming state legislators were still “joking” about retrieving Cody’s body through covert means.  
The view from Lookout Mountain. The city of Golden is in the foreground and Denver can be seen on the horizon.

Ever the showman and consummate entertainer, I think that Cody would have enjoyed the hullabaloo and the attention that he is still drawing, even 100 years after his death.