Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas San Diego, Ca. March 2012

Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas San Diego, Ca. March 2012
Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas at Luche Libre Taco Shop in San Diego, March 2012

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Floral Arrangements From The Blind

She stands tall in the face of mediocrity
Surrounded as she is
By monsters 
Unmentionable beasts
Who desire to do unmentionable things
To each and every woman they meet
With the one exception
Of her
(and to think she's even willing to go Dutch)


Monday, July 29, 2013

Lacking In Coverage Of The Surrealstic

Reading yesterdays morning edition of Tageblatt hoping to find coverage of the woman who attempted to drown her sorrows in a wastebasket of Harlequin Romance fan fiction based on the adventurous life of the murderous Edward Teach, that nefarious pirate who captained the Queen Anne's Revenge and grew his beard to be thick and fearsome in order to strike fear in the hearts of his enemies but has now been re-invented as a dashing romantic lead with a humorous nature which appeals to both fans of the dashing heroic type and serial murderers, of which women comprise a huge percentage (upwards of 90%, I understand), and being sadly disappointed in the lack of even a small, one paragraph mention that forces me to consider the possibility that maybe, just maybe, having an interest in esoteric psychotic suicide attempts is probably not something the editors of heavily subsidized Luxembourgian newspapers share in or care to give coverage to considering the limited page count of the aforementioned zeitung ("zeitung" being Luxembourgian for newspaper - see, you learned something new today).

Oh well, maybe there's something about it in The Sun.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Cow In The Right Light

                                                        SoCal cow, at the Del Mar fair

There is a person, an acquaintance of mine, who claims to have taken a picture of a different person everyday for the past 14 years.

This hobby came about, I was told, in the last year of the 1990's. That was the year of the Y2K paranoia, and though it's hard to believe from the perspective of 2013, there were people then seriously concerned about the calendar turning the corner to the new millennium.

So this photographer friend of mine started taking pictures of people when they would come into the Army-Navy store where she worked at the time. These were everyday, ordinary people who came in to purchase portable generators, two-way radios, water purifiers, solar ovens. That type of thing.

Anywhatzit, the year came and went and nothing happened, but the portrait fixation, the collection of which was kept in a photo album, continued.

Everyday, a new person was greeted and a request was made for a picture. She claims she was only turned down 3 times.

The pictures were all taken with a 35mm camera and printed on film until 2005, when she went digital. Instead of photo albums full of pictures, she now has a small binder full of CD's. She says she has over 5,000 portraits.

We met 10 years ago when she approached me at an art gallery on the corner of Colfax and Pearl and asked if she could take my picture. I had a camera with me and replied that I didn't mind, but only if I could take a picture of her taking a picture of me.

The date I was with at the time took a third picture of the two of us taking pictures of each other, which I should have asked for a copy of, as that date has long since disappeared from my life (she ended up marrying a guy she met online and moving to Florida, If I recall correctly).

The photographer, who now works as a receptionist for a Dentist in Wyoming, which is where she relocated after she got married in 2008 and stayed after she got divorced in 2010, emails me some of the more interesting portraits she shoots. 

Today she sent me a few pictures she had taken at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo, and all of them were of livestock.

She explained in her email that she had stopped taking pictures of people and has decided to take pictures of livestock from now on.

Which, I suppose could be interesting. Except all of the pictures she sent pretty much looked like pictures of the same cow.

She further explained that she started taking pictures of cows due to people she approached getting suspicious about what she was going to do with the pictures. One woman accused her of wanting her picture to use on a fake dating profile, so she could scam people.

Cows, apparently have no such reservations.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Spiked Fauxhawk And A Misfits Tee

Hot Topic doesn't care that you're depressed
Not interested in existential crisis or despair
It's great that you're such a real music lover
Just buy the shirt and get out

Used to send kids like you 
Into the mines
To dig out chunks of anthracite
Or put you on a barge headed down the Susquehanna
Show you a real good time

Rolling Stone has no interest
In your take on the Benghazi affair
Gonna plaster the sexy face of a terrorist on the cover
Give us all something to talk about

Sitting around bored with nothing to do
But dressed to the nines
Part of the landscape, the great American blight
As culturally elite as Vicente Aranda
Wasting away in your prime

Bring your purchase to the counter
Swipe your Dad's credit card and leave
The counter-culture is the market
Rebellion is what they eat

Friday, July 26, 2013

What Some Heterosexual Males Desire In A Woman (A Partial List)

Some men desire women for their physical appearance, which is okay as there is no shortage of women who wish to be desired for their physical appearance.

Some men desire women for their intellect, which is okay as there is no shortage of women who wish to be desired for their intellect.

Some men desire women for their charming and pleasant personalities, which is okay as there is no shortage of women who wish to be desired for their charming and pleasant personalities.

Some men desire women for their athletic skills and abilities, which is okay as there is no shortage of women who wish to be desired for their athletic skills and abilities.

Some men desire women for their caring and compassionate nature, which is okay as there is no shortage of women who wish to be desired for their caring and compassionate nature.

Some men desire women who want to be in charge and in control, which is okay as there is no shortage of women who wish to be desired for being in charge and in control.

Some men desire women who like to stay inside and hide from the world, which is okay as there is no shortage of women who wish to be desired for wanting to stay inside and hiding from the world (though they are a bit difficult to meet).

Some men desire women who are artistically inclined and expressive, which is okay as there is no shortage of women who wish to be desired for their artistic inclination and expressiveness.

Some men desire women who aspire to be in the spotlight and envied by all, which is okay as there is no shortage of women who wish to be desired for being in the spotlight and envied by all.

Some men desire women who want to be the star of the show and adored by everyone, which is okay as there is no shortage of women who wish to be desired as the star of the show and adored by everyone.

Some men desire women who are hard-nosed and driven, which is okay as there is no shortage of women who wish to be desired for being hard-nosed and driven.

Some men desire women who are relaxed and easy-going, which is okay as there is no shortage of women who wish to be desired for being relaxed and easy-going.

Some men desire women who want to be happy little housewives and mothers, which is okay as there is no shortage of women who wish to be desired as happy little housewives and mothers.

Some men desire women who are independent and self-reliant, which is okay as there is no shortage of women who wish to be desired for being independent and self-reliant.

Some men desire women who want to be lead around and told what to do, which is okay as there is no shortage of women who wish to be lead around and told what to do.

Some men desire women with a sexually adventurous bent, which is okay as there is no shortage of women who wish to be desired for their sexually adventurous bent.

Some men desire women who are devoutly religious, which is okay as there is no shortage of women who wish to be desired for being devoutly religious.

Some men desire women who are secular and rationalist, which is okay as there is no shortage of women who wish to be desired for being secular and rationalist.

Some men desire women who want to live fast and party hard, which is okay as there is no shortage of women who wish to be desired for living fast and partying hard.

Some men desire women who are plain and simple, which is okay as there is no shortage of women who wish to be desired for being plain and simple.

Some men desire women who are intriguingly complicated, which is okay, as there is no shortage of women who wish to be desired as intriguingly complicated.

Some men desire women who are charitable and selfless, which is okay as there is no shortage of women who wish to be desired for being charitable and selfless.

Some men desire women who will tolerate their idiosyncrasies, share with them their successes, rely on them and be reliable themselves, support their endeavors, indulge their fantasies, stimulate their curiosity, encourage their aspirations, celebrate with them their victories, endure with them their trials and tribulations, dance with them to fast and slow songs, Laugh with them, bear with their doubts, trust in their intentions, abide their shortcomings, boost their flagging spirits, build with them a mutually beneficial relationship...


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Freedom To Not Follow

Temples are built stone by stone
Filled with statues of gods and heroes
Decorated with brightly colored depictions
Of legends, myths, and fables
Altars are placed to allow for

             Kingdoms and Empires
             Rise and fall, crumble into dust
             Leaving behind the ruins of their religion
             Still full of life and seeking worshipers

In times
Of drought 
Or famine
Of flood
Or feast
Of war
Or peace
             A claim will always be made
             That one particular god
             Is going to need to be thanked
             Is going to need to be appeased

Those who chose not to follow
Who claim not only freedom of religion
But also from such
Weather accusations from the congregation             

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Slow News Week

               Lakewood, Colorado July 20th 2013

Complex thought 
Is nothing new
The ancient Greeks had it
The Chinese too

But complexity of thought 
Does not save us from the trivial
Our top story this week
The birth of a British royal

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Better Later Than Never

It is difficult to believe that anyone has ever approached a task and said to themselves, "Self, I'm going to do this half-arsed. I am just not going to put one iota of effort, pride, or passion into this at all."

It is far easier to believe that some people are just not capable of doing certain things well. No amount of pithy adages or positive reinforcement will motivate them to perform the task in anything but a lackluster manner.

I believe some of those people are people who have simply just not found their calling, and because of that, do not feel connected to their careers.

History is rife* with stories of people who plodded along working as clerks or stevedores or bicycle messengers, earning a living but not really into their job...until one day, something happens that flips a switch and suddenly they not only know exactly what it is they should be doing, they jump into it full on, making every effort to succeed in whatever it is that stirred the passion.

Two examples: 

Noreen Culhane, current Executive Vice President, Global Corporate Client Group, for the New York Stock Exchange. After college, she worked for 5 years as a Catholic school teacher, but it wasn't her passion - business was and is, and she found it by taking a job with IBM and working her way up the corporate ladder (she spent twenty years with IBM before joining the NYSE).

Ron Larson, Professor of Mathematics at Penn State Erie, the Behrend College, Pennsylvania. Professor Larson married young (when he was 18) and he and his wife Deanna opened up a small business, Larson's Custom Quilts, which they operated until selling it in 1962. Professor Larson then went to college, earning an Associates degree in 1964, his Bachelors in 1966, Masters in 1968, and finally his Doctorate in Mathematics in 1970. He worked full time his last four years of college, in a restaurant and then in a grocery store. He worked hard because he had found his passion, and it wasn't quilting. 

I use those two examples because they are living, breathing people. Of course there are many, many more to be found in the historical record (The recently deceased Dennis Farina would be a great example - 18 years as a competent cop in Chicago, then got his toe wet in film as a technical advisor and discovered what it was that really stirred his passion).

It can be difficult to consider that one's passion hasn't made itself known before, say, one's 30th birthday (or even much later), but it is not only probable, it actually happens everyday on this little blue marble. 

Child prodigies might get all the press, but sometimes, every so often, it takes a while to find one's true calling. 

*Word of the day, rife - courtesy of John R.

Monday, July 22, 2013

David And Anne Fall Apart

The lights of the mall parking lot cast a pale orange-yellow hue over the three remaining cars. Sitting behind the wheel of a sedan that had seen better days, a thin young man with dark hair stared blankly out into the night.

His hands alternately gripped the steering wheel and fidgeted with his cellphone. Several times in the past two hours he had slotted the key in the ignition to turn the engine over, only to quickly shut the engine off.

The night was warm enough that he did not need the use of the heater, but not so warm as to be uncomfortable. 

He was uncomfortable though, very uncomfortable.

It was a discomfort born of regret, regret and remorse. He was depressed, and he was angry, and sporadically he felt spasms of shame and oddly, guilt.

Looking at the small screen on his phone, he once again accessed his bank account. The large withdrawals from both his savings and checking seemed to leap out and attack his eyes. The remaining balances were barely the required minimum for keeping the accounts open.

"How," he muttered to himself for perhaps the 100th time that evening, "could I have been that stupid? How?"

Masochistically he recounted the events of the day. Driving off to work, then realizing he had left the load manifest on the coffee table. Turning around to retrieve it, driving down the street towards his house and seeing the dark red pick-up in the driveway.

He was proud of himself for not reacting violently. When he walked in the house and saw what remained of a few rails of coke on a picture frame laying on the coffee table next to the load manifest (A picture frame that held a photo of Anne and him at Disneyland) and heard a man's voice coming from the bedroom, he calmly walked upstairs, silently opened the bedroom door, and watched Anne on her knees servicing a pudgy, long-haired man who looked to be at least 60 years- old.

David stood there for at least a full minute before either of them noticed him. The man was the first one to do so - he looked up from watching Anne swallowing his manhood and nearly jumped out of his skin when he saw David standing quietly in the doorway.

"Who the hell are you?!" The old man blurted out while pushing Anne out of the way as he bent down to pull up his pants. Anne twisted around as she was pushed and when she caught sight of David her eyes, wide from the coke she snorted just 10 minutes ago, grew even wider.

"Oh god, David, oh my god, this isn't what it looks like, it's nothing, oh my god!" Anne stammered the words out as she frantically pulled her robe on.

David stepped to the side as the half-dressed old man rushed out of the room, down the stairs, and out the front door.

Anne looked at the silent figure of David. She shook uncontrollably for a few seconds. "Say something goddamn you! Say something! What the hell did you expect me to do when all you do is spend all of your time at work?! You haven't paid attention to me in months!"

Looking at Anne he felt anger welling up inside him. It took every ounce of willpower he possessed to maintain control.

"Get out. Get all of your things together, and get out of my house. I'm going to leave now, but when I return, you and everything of yours better be gone."

With a cold glare he turned and walked out. He stopped at the coffee table and picked up the load manifest, glancing at the framed picture of the happy couple.

He drove mechanically to work. When Brett greeted him in the hallway, he handed him the load manifest and told him he would be taking the day off to deal with a personal issue. Brett could see the stress on his face and didn't question him, just told him to let HR know.

When he got in his car he started out heading north on the interstate. He drove for an hour without a particular destination in mind. He just wanted to drive away from the city, away from his house, away from her.

The first text he received from her came when he was stopped at a gas station. He read the message begging him to call her so they could talk things out and immediately deleted it. Over the next hour he received a text message every minute, and then the phone calls started. David resisted the urge to answer the phone and scream every obscenity he could think of into it, He just let it ring. By noon he had 15 voicemail messages.

He pulled into a little diner on the main street of a small town three hours from his home. He needed to get some food in him, get a notebook out and write down a plan of action. He left his phone in the car as it started ringing again.

The small restaurant was busy. There were a few empty stools at the end of the long bar that two waitresses patrolled so he took a seat in the last one. Immediately one of the waitresses approached him with a coffee pot in one hand and a small glass of ice water in the other.

"Good afternoon," the waitress, a woman with a big smile and big hips said as David sat down. "Coffee?"

"Uh, sure," David answered. Can I get honey for my coffee, too?"

"You got it. The specials are up on the board and here's a menu." She said this as she poured his coffee into a cup she had flipped over and set in front of him. Then she walked down the bar and retrieved a plastic bear-shaped bottle of honey from a shelf underneath the bar and returned with it as David scanned the menu.

"Ready?" She had a pen poised over a tablet and smiled brightly at him.

"Yeah, I'll have the meatloaf with the mashed potatoes - does that come with a side salad?"

"It does - would you like dressing? We have Italian, Blue Cheese, Honey Mustard, and Ranch."

"Blue Cheese would be great." David handed her back the menu and she walked back to the serving window.

Opening the small notebook he flipped through to a blank page. Clicking his pen he started to write down what he thought he needed to do.

The waitress quietly placed the side salad next to him as he wrote. He poked at a cherry tomato absently with his fork, finally spearing it and a small piece of lettuce.  

He wrote slowly, deliberately. Get rid of all the pictures. Cancel cable (he had only gotten cable so she could watch her stupid shows). Take her car off his insurance (she had lost her job almost immediately after moving in with him, and couldn't afford car insurance, so he had graciously put her on his, telling her and himself it was only temporary - that was 11 months ago). He had to cancel the gas station credit card he had put her on (she didn't have income after she lost her job and she promised to pay back every cent). He had to take her off of his accounts at the bank. 

That's when the penny dropped. He got up and ran out of the diner to his car and frantically grabbed his cellphone. He now had 17 voicemail messages.

He activated his bank's app and waited nervously as it came up, hurriedly punching in his User ID and Password with his fingers, then answering the security question, tapping hard on the glass screen as if that would speed up the process.

He stared at his phone in disbelief. His savings account balance was $5.01. His checking account balance was $20.00.

The waitress from the diner came out to where he had parked. She cleared her throat loudly to get his attention. "Sir, your lunch is ready - do you want me to put it in a to-go container for you?"

David looked up at her. "Uh, no, no...I'll be right in."

The waitress walked back into the diner as David pressed the voicemail icon. 16 messages were from Anne. The first few were apologetic, all of them ending in loud gasping sobs and pitiful crying. Then the messages became angry, obscenity-laced rants that attacked everything about David, from his looks to his taste in music to his dog. 

As he walked back into the diner he listened to the last voicemail message.

The last message, the one that had been left when he had sat down in the diner, was from his bank, inquiring about the large withdrawals made from his savings and checking accounts by the co-owner of the account.

David sat down on the stool and stared at the plate in front of him. He was numb. He dug into the meatloaf and ate it without tasting it. He pushed the mashed potatoes around, hoping the butter pat would be able to melt as he mixed it in with the gravy.

He was still numb when the waitress came with the check. He fished out his wallet and left $12.00 for the $7.00 lunch, then made his way back to his car.

His savings were gone, stolen. Except they had been taken by someone he had given access to his accounts himself. Very hard to prove it was theft. 

He started his car and drove back onto the highway, heading away from his home once again. His head was filling with vile thoughts, he needed to calm down.

As he drove he imagined scenario after scenario of tracking Anne down and beating her senseless, or much worse. He tried to remember the license plate number of the dark red truck that the old man had parked in the driveway, but he couldn't. He wanted to desperately find the old man and beat him senseless too.    

He crossed into a neighboring state an hour after he had eaten lunch, and pulled off the highway to get gas again. As he filled the tank it occurred to him that he should call the credit card company and get her name taken off. He pulled out his cellphone and tapped in the phone number on the back of the card.

The call was quick and easy. The woman on the other end of the line told him her card was now invalid, and that a letter confirming this would be mailed to him in 3 to 5 business days. David felt a small measure of victory.

When he got back into his car he reached into the glove box and found his insurance paperwork. He pulled over to the side of the gas station and called the number for his agent.

That call was a little more involved, as the insurance agent wanted a signed letter stating why Anne was to be removed from the policy mailed to the company. It wasn't until David clearly explained the situation and threatened to cancel his policy completely did the insurance agent agree to take her off his policy without the signed letter. 

The afternoon was too bright and alive for the way David was feeling. He needed rain, he needed a storm that would better reflect his turmoil.

As he drove through the small town he looked for a movie theater he could pass time in without having to think. He finally chanced upon a mall and parked in the lot. 

The matinee had started twenty minutes before he got there, but he bought a ticket in spite of that. The film he watched was a dull comedy, but it did the job he wanted, distracting him from the events of the day. When the movie finished up he went back to the box office to buy a ticket for a second movie, but the cashier told him to go ahead and watch the film on the house, as he had missed so much of the first film.

When he left the theater the sun had long since disappeared beyond the horizon. The mall parking lot was emptying quickly. He made his way to his car and sat behind the wheel. He put his key in the ignition, turned the engine over and let the car idle for awhile.

Then he turned the engine off and picked up his cellphone. He accessed his bank app and started at his nearly empty accounts.

"How," He muttered angrily to himself for the first time that night, "could I have been so stupid?"

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Of Course It Matters

We are not talking about interstellar stardust
Adrift in the incomprehensible vastness of space

We are talking about the actions you take today
And how they affect your present

The here and now
It matters

You matter, you mean something
never lose sight of that truth

You are not just a random clump of stardust
You are of the stars


Friday, July 19, 2013

Self-Created Disruption In The Time Of One's Life

He is talking and I cannot
Hear a word he says
Or rather I do not want to
Listen to the excuses that he's made
For none of them ring true

Out of his mouth words are spilling
Tumbling over his tongue and lips
It's as if he's reading for a role
But he needs to find a better script

Just one chance, he says
Was all he ever wanted
But no one would ever give him a break
And he always felt alienated
Teachers would single him out, put him on the spot
Put him in classes he would have to retake
The police harassed him for just being around
Always comparing him to grainy mugshots
His own family was constantly letting him down
Kicked him to the street, told him to get a job
As if it was that easy when every employer
From the biggest company to a Mom & Pop
Expected him to accept minimum wage to start
He was much too good for that
He wasn't going to sit at the bottom of the 
Organizational chart

He stops talking and just
For a second I think he's done
But no, he simply got distracted 
By a young girl enhanced with silicone

Finally, after an hour slips by
A chance comes to getaway
Standing up, hand extended with a smile
Words are exchanged though I don't know what to say
It's been some time, I'm hoping for a longer while

Colorado's Newest State Park

                       Monolithic Lions Head looms over the park like a vigilant sentinel

In late May of this year the state of Colorado opened it's 42nd state park just north of State Highway 285, about thirty minutes from the heart of Lakewood. Wednesday afternoon was calm and clear, which made it a perfect day to explore this latest addition to Colorado's treasure chest of natural wonders.

                                        The park is open from 8am until 9pm

The park is just shy of 4,000 acres, and was made possible by the generous bequest of 1,720 acres of beautiful mountain and high-altitude meadow by Francis H. Staunton in 1986, and with the purchase of an additional 2,148 surrounding acres since 1986 by the Colorado State Parks dept. (made possible by Great Outdoors Colorado Legacy grants and money from the Colorado Lottery) and the State Land Board (They in turn lease it to Colorado Parks & Wildlife).

I should mention that, as it is a state park, there is a fee to enter - $7.00 per car unless you have your annual Colorado Parks pass ($70.00 for unlimited park usage).

                           The Staunton Ranch trail skirts the soaring granite cliffs

In 1898, Doctor Archibald G. Staunton married Doctor Rachel Hornbrook Bullard in Maryland, thus creating what had to be a very rare power couple for that day and age. In 1903, when their only child, a daughter named Francis, was 4 years old, they made their way west intending to practice medicine in California. 

Like a lot of people (to this very day), they arrived in Denver, took a look around and decided to stay.

The Staunton Ranch was built gradually over the years by the Staunton family, first as a summer home and eventually, when they built several cabins on the property that they could rent out, as a resort. The Staunton family also leased land to a lumber mill, and the remnants of that operation are still visible.    

                                            The trail is wide and flat is most areas

When her father died in 1958 (having been predeceased by his wife 12 years earlier), Francis Staunton took over the ranch. She spent the next 34 years maintaining the ranch as it had stood since the mid - '40's, and upon her passing in 1986 it was gifted to the state of Colorado with the stipulation that the area be preserved "...as a natural wilderness-type park."

That cabin in the woods those kids never returned from? Right there

Francis H. Staunton's request has been followed to the letter.

                                                    A cairn to mark the trail

The Staunton Ranch Trail is wide and flat for it's entire 3.3 miles. As you hike further into the park you are gaining altitude, but the increase is over such a long section of the trail it is barely noticeable. 

Climbing access for the sheer rocky cliffs thataway...fortunately, sanity rules the day

The trail skirts along impressive rock formations that are available for climbing should one be so insane inclined. Uh, climbing means hands, feet, and temporary stanchions only, as bolting and fixed protection is not allowed.

                                      Continuing on the road much more traveled 

The trail is so wide in areas that it is pretty much a dirt road. In fact, many of the larger trails were jeep roads or service roads before the park was created.

                                                              Scarlet Gilia

Central Colorado has seen abundant rain over the past few weeks, which means every wildflower under the sun is blooming, and the hills are green with long grass. If you have ever wanted to hike a trail that is a virtual kaleidoscope of color, you may want to consider spending a day in Staunton Ranch park.

The Bugling Elk Trail leads to the Elk Falls Overlook

I have no idea where my Colorado Gazetteer currently is, but I'm going to have to find it. The park has views of many prominent peaks, and it would be great to be able to identify them. I'm fairly certain the peak in the above photo is Black Mountain..or maybe it's Shadow Mountain...dang.

                               Weathered reaper is the only clue this was once a ranch

Walking along the trail and passing large seemingly pristine open meadows it is difficult to imagine that this area was once a working ranch.

Occasionally though you see a long-ago abandoned cabin or rusted piece of farm equipment left behind in a field that gives evidence to the life that was once lived in this wilderness.

                             Elk Falls Pond with a faint moon high in the midday sky

At the end of the Bugling Elk Trail is a small pond where fishing is allowed, but not swimming nor boating. The pond is not much more than an acre of water, if that, but it is situated at the far end of a picturesque little valley, and there is one of the many older cabins at the far end of the pond, near the bend where Lion's Back Trail begins.

The cabin is closed up now, but it isn't hard to imagine how fantastic it must have been to be able to leave the heat of a Denver summer 60 or 70 years ago and relax in the cool mountain air while enjoying a freshly caught fish dinner.  

                                                     Wildflowers in the wild

The remaining 1 mile journey to the Elk Falls Overlook along Lion's Back Trail is a little steeper than the previous 4.4 miles of the Staunton Ranch and Bugling Elk Trails. Fortunately, it is through somewhat dense forest and there is plenty of shade.

                        View from the Elk Falls Overlook...the falls are very far away

Lions Back Trail ends at the base of the Elk Falls Overlook. Scrambling another 250 feet gets you to the overlook, and the view is nothing short of phenomenal. 

Worth every single step of the hike.


The waterfall itself is on the opposite wall of the valley,  at least a good half-mile from the viewing area. There are plans to build a trail that will go from the Elk Falls Pond to the base of Elk Falls, but for now this spectacular view is all we get.

                                              Hey! I can see Colorado from here!

From the Elk Falls Overlook the horizon appears to be well over a 100 miles away. The valley floor where the Elk Falls Ranch once was sprawls out below, and Pike's Peak can easily be discerned on the far southern horizon. 

                                     Watch your step, it's a long, long way down

The Overlook itself is a fairly small area, and care should be taken when you're up there, as a misstep could be ugly.

Walking back...there should be more downhill trail

The sun was casting long shadows by now, and I knew I had to head back to the park entrance. The trails do not loop, so it's basically a backtrack out.

  The crossroads - the Border Line Trail is to the left and leads to the Staunton Rocks Overlook

When I first entered the park I took the most direct route possible to get to the Elk Falls Overlook in the shortest time possible. However, there are alternate trails, and as I walked out I pondered the idea of taking one of those back to the trailhead. 

The Bugling Elk Trail meets the Border Line Trail just before the Staunton Ranch Trail, and I decided to take the BL route back as it offered another overlook, with the view from this one being more to the north and northwest.

                                    The trail to the overlook is a bit steep in parts

The Border Line Trail starts out as a steady ascent up a fairly well groomed trail, but soon becomes a narrow and at times rocky path. This is a trail that Mountain Bikers love, as it is far more challenging that the broad, clear path of the primary trails.

 This is the roughest trail so far...and toughest

It's 1.5 miles up the Border Line Trail to the Staunton Rocks Overlook, then another 1/10th of a mile of rather coarse trail to the overlook itself.  

                 Hold onto your hats! The view up here is every bit as good as the Elk Falls Overlook

As with the view from the Elk Falls Overlook, the panorama offered by the Staunton Rocks overlook is spectacular, though more of the park is encompassed from this view; to the north, west, and south. 

                                                Great view to the southwest 

The valley opens up directly below you, and the Lion's Head prominence can be seen to the southwest.

                  Terrific view looking south towards Pikes Peak (very faint but it's there)

The moon was now more distinct in the sky as the sun began to dip towards the western horizon. There was still plenty of light to enjoy the incredible view though, and to get a few pics of this incredible park and the surrounding area.

                                            Hence the name Staunton Rocks Overlook

The Staunton Rocks are a collection of huge jagged rock outcroppings that appear rounded from this vantage point, but are actually the cliff faces that climbers scamper up. 
                  The view to the west of the Staunton Rocks Overlook is impressive too

 Some thoughtful person left a folding chair on the trail for the road weary

It is another mile along the Border Line Trail to the site of the Old Mill, and while the majority of the mile is fairly level, there are still a few steep ascents as well as descents. it's switchback city, pretty much. 

  The site of a turn of the century lumber mill

                                Historic building...no. Historic remains of a building, yes

There isn't much left of the Old Mill. It almost looks like it was dropped from a considerable height and left where it landed. 

The old bunkhouse for the lumber operation is still standing, and there are a number of rusted bits and pieces of old machinery laying about.

                            Parts of equipment used at the old mill scattered about the site

                                The Old Mill Trail leads back to the Staunton Ranch Trail

The Border Line Trail, the Old Mill Trail, and the Mason Creek Trail converge at the site of the old mill, and if I had had more time, I would have taken the Mason Creek Trail back to the park entrance. However, it is 4.5 miles in length, and taking the Old Mill Trail down to where it intersects with the Staunton Ranch Trail shaves a little more than a mile off of that. 

The moon was up and the sun was down, time to skeedaddle

As it was, I barely got out of the park before closing - fact is, the Park Ranger was patiently waiting on me, as I was the last one out.

The trails I took in (Staunton Ranch to Bugling Elk to Lion's Back) and the trails I took out (Lion's Back to Bugling Elk to Border Line to Old Mill to Staunton Ranch) totaled close to 12 miles. Needless to say, I was fairly spent.

However, the hike was well worth my while, and I highly recommend it to everyone. You would be hard pressed to find hiking trails through such a gorgeous mountain region this close to Denver.

Be sure to bring plenty of water when you go (I brought 3 liters) and maybe a protein bar or two - it's going to take at least 5 hours to cover the ground I did, much longer if you also hike the Davis Ponds, Marmot Passage, or Mason Creek Trails.

Oh, and bring a hat. It's cooler up there than in the city, but the sun is still blazing.