Westward Ho! PDF Print E-mail
Family Travels

Westward Ho!
by Candy Summers

 Jon and I are really farmers and ranchers at heart, and if left up to us, we would live on a farm or a ranch. Our favorite movies always include horses, cattle, cowboys, and John Wayne. We escape to the country every weekend that we can get away and work outside till we drop. We love to live, eat, and breathe in the country. I even named our horses Dakota, Cheyenne, Sundance, Montana, Chantay, and Shiloh, and our country home Cedar Creek Canyon Ranch. Unfortunately, Jon says we cannot call it that because it does not have a canyon nor is it a ranch. Of course he also told me that our lake is really a pond. Well, I may not know everything there is to know about the country, but I clean fish and muck out the barn, work with barbed wire, and know how to yip and holler when we round up the herd.
 Yes, if we had lived back in the 1800s we would probably have left the East Coast city life and headed west to stake out the perfect little thousand-acre spread for our horses, cattle, and twelve children, where we would have been at home on the range where our horses and cattle roamed, “where never was heard a discouraging word, and the sky was not cloudy all day.” Needless to say, our descendants would be there still, all working together to keep their cattle ranch free from developers.
 Really, I would have made a great cowgirl if God had just gone along with my plan. However, Jon tells me that God knew what He was doing to keep one of my feet in the city because I start to talk funny when I’ve been in the country too long. He also says I take the country a little too far when I start sweeping my dust piles right outside the door instead of picking them up with a dustpan like civilized folks. Who can really say what I would have become if left in the country.
 Nevertheless, although we had never made it further than a few miles west of the Mississippi, we took a trip west in Fall 2003 to take in the history and scenery and relive some of our favorite cowboy movies. In two weeks we covered 4,300 miles, but contrary to what you might think, the distance was not in any way challenging because we love to discover new horizons, and upon every horizon was more gorgeous scenery. And to our delight, we saw cattle ranch after cattle ranch, longhorn cattle, several real cattle drives in progress, barns, sagebrush, tumbleweed, cactus, ghost towns, magnificent mountains, crystal clear lakes, huge towering pine trees, herds of deer, glorious sunsets, and even the Chisholm Trail. And in addition to all this, we even hiked in a beautiful canyon and went trout fishing. It was a dream come true, for we truly experienced the West.
 But what really made the trip so very, very, special was the great hospitality shown to us by former Colorado residents, Jay and Kathy Hamre, who made every effort to make our trip a glorious memory filled with beautiful sights and wonderful experiences. As our personal tour guides, they took us to all the gorgeous spots in Colorado, many we would have never seen on our own because of their location off the beaten path. And to make it even more educational, each of us had a set of walkie-talkies in our vans, so Kathy could tell us all about the sites along the path on which Jay led us. The trip was so great that, as promised, we are sharing it with you so that you, too, can enjoy the same breathtaking and educational trail.
 As always, before a trip I gather all the information I can on the different areas we plan to visit so that I have plenty of information to read to our family along the way. For this trip, along with brochures and travel books, I selected books on Jedidiah Smith-Christian hero of the wilderness, Kit Carson, the gold rush, miners, trappers, cowboys, cattle drives, pioneers, Colonel Powell and his exploration of the Colorado River, and trading on the Santa Fe Trail. Then when we had finished reading everything I had brought with us, we stopped at a used bookstore in Durango and purchased a lot more books on the West, so we had ample reading material for the rest of our journey. One of the books we purchased there was on Wells Fargo because we saw so many Wells Fargo banks. As we found out, Wells Fargo has a very fascinating history.

Colorado

 To begin our journey, the Hamres’ and the Summers’ wagons pulled out of St. Louis one evening after work and headed west on Hwy. 70. To make the most of every hour, each of us took turns driving and drove almost all the way to Colorado with only a few hours’ sleep at a rest stop in Kansas, so that by early morning we were in Colorado. Before we entered Colorado, though, we enjoyed the rolling hills of Kansas where we pictured buffalo roaming and Indians hiding just beyond the crest of each hill.
 As we entered Colorado on Hwy. 70, we admired the beautiful purple sage that dotted the arid open spaces of the ranches we passed. We turned south on Hwy. 24, and by mid morning we were walking among the brilliant red and white sandstone rock formations in Garden of the Gods, located just outside the main strip in Colorado Springs, beneath the foothills of Pikes Peak. It is said that Katherine Lee Bates composed “America the Beautiful” after visiting Pikes Peak, which happened to be just the beginning of many magnificent mountains because Colorado possesses three-fourths of U.S. land that exceeds 10,000 feet above sea level.
 On Hwy. 24 right before Florissant, we saw really pretty scenery and then as we passed through the wide open grassy spaces of South Park, Kathy told us that the Queen of England once baled hay here and had it shipped to England. The drive into Buena Vista was beautiful as we entered the San Isabel National Forest with rugged outcroppings of rocks and lots of evergreens. From Buena Vista we headed south on Hwy. 285 to Mt. Princeton Hot Springs, which sits at the base of Mt. Princeton, one of the three mountains that forms the Collegiate mountain range and in turn forms the Continental Divide. Each of these snow-covered mountains rose to a height of over 14,000 feet in elevation.
 It was the first time that any of our family had been to a hot springs, so we were surprised at how hot the water was that came right out of the ground. But I think the most interesting aspect of this hot springs is that the hot water spewed out right next to a bitter cold creek. So when we were ready to soak in this acclaimed therapeutic spring, the Hamres showed us how to form our own little hot tubs by taking rocks from the creek and forming a pool around the hot water. When the water got too hot, we were directed to move one of our rocks so as to let in some of the cold water from the creek until the water was a comfortable temperature again, and then replace our rock to close our pool back up again. That night we soaked again in the hot springs as mist rose all around us to meet the mountains that looked down upon us like mighty sentinels, and then shortly thereafter on our way back to our room we saw eight deer grazing. Yes, we were really in the mountains of Colorado.
 The next morning we woke up to a stunning view of the snow peaked mountain range that lay right outside our window. As soon as we detected daylight, we opened the curtains and called to the kids to get up and see the magnificent view. Kathy pointed out the tree line on the mountains, explaining that trees could not grow above that elevation because cold temperatures prevented their growth. This explained why these mountains were bald above about 12,000 feet. After breakfast in our rooms, the Hamres took us on a hike up to Agnes Vaille Falls (just up the road from the hot springs on the way to St. Elmo), which was just gorgeous and well worth the hike!
 At the St. Elmo ghost town, we fed chipmunks by the dozens who took the seeds right out of our hands. Then we drove on a fairly rugged road up the mountain by St. Elmo to some old abandoned mining camps on the sides of the mountain. After exploring a bit, we headed north on Hwy. 285 to the town of Fairplay in South Park City, first stopping at the Forest Service shop at the junction of Hwys. 285 and 9. It was a great stop for postcards, brochures, books, and information on the snow passes. Then we toured the cute hotel and museum at Fairplay, while also enjoying their preserved ghost town.
 Heading north on Hwy. 9 we drove through the little town of Alma, which still has original mining cabins standing. Still on Hwy. 9, we crossed the Continental Divide at Hoosier Pass with an elevation of 11,541 feet before coming into Breckenridge, nestled right at the base of the mountain with its beautiful, quaint Victorian buildings dating back to the 1800s. Besides adoring the Victorian architecture, we loved the bright colors they used to paint their shops and homes. It was like a storybook town and well worth the visit. The tall pines were also just lovely.
 On our way out of town, we traveled up onto a side road to look at some beautiful homes and then up Hwy. 9 to Dillon Lake, which was just beautiful with all the sailboats sailing amongst the diamond studded waves that glittered in the bright sun. Kathy told us that all the bodies of water in Colorado are too cold to swim in even during the peak of summer, and though it may get very hot during the day, when the sun sets, the evenings became so cool people do not even eat out on patios like we do in St. Louis. From here we got on Hwy. 6 and went into a beautiful canyon in Frisco and on to Copper Mountain, named for the copper tailings which are still visible. Retracing our trip back, we went north on Hwy. 6, south on Hwy. 9, south on Hwy. 285, and southwest on Hwy. 24 to Buena Vista.
 Out of Buena Vista going north on Hwy. 24, Kathy pointed out an old stagecoach road that followed the creek to the right of us at the base of the hill. I never dreamed that there would still be old beaten paths visible, left by stagecoaches and wagons. I was truly thankful for this glimpse of the path left by those who first forged through such rugged country! Also still visible was an old mine shaft, which had been abandoned long ago. We did not have time to go straight ahead into Leadville, but from what I read about that town’s history, it would have made an interesting visit. Instead, we made a left onto Hwy. 82, and shortly thereafter saw some really pretty scenery at Twin Lakes. Here, Kathy pointed out the tall pines, which are aptly named lodge pole pines. Crossing the Continental Divide again at Independence Pass, we stopped to get out and take in the scenery. With an elevation of 12,093 feet, the wind and cold air forced us to put on our jackets before we entered the tundra to view the scenery from this lookout point. Shoo wee, no wonder trees are unable to survive at this elevation.
 After leaving the pass and continuing northwest, we started our descent down Hwy. 82, which became nothing more than a narrow road carved on the side of a very steep cliff that actually narrowed into one lane at places, with hairpin turns and sheer drop offs. Even Jon was a little nervous as we crept along, and even around, some rockslides. And when Jon is nervous, I know I have a right to be nervous!
 But, as you see, we made it to the town of Aspen—another pretty town, only this one was not quite as friendly as we looked a little out of place among their well-heeled, sophisticated residents. And of course this town is named for the tall aspens that abound around it. After walking around town and visiting their beautiful, Victorian fully-restored Hotel Jerome which was built in 1889, we drove to Maroon Bells, the most photographed mountain in Colorado, where we enjoyed a lovely picnic at the base of Maroon Bells on the Maroon Creek. We especially enjoyed the magnificent trees there, along with the palatial homes we passed along the way.
 From here we got back on Hwy. 82 going northwest until we got to Carbondale and then turned south on Hwy. 133. This scenery was some of the most gorgeous we saw on the whole trip as it ran between snowcapped mountains with white and red rock formations, green trees, and horse ranches. Did I say it was gorgeous? Oh, it was! This was the White River National Forest, which is the back of Maroon Bells. And with the combination of Hays Creek, rocky cliffs, and the view of a variety of different mountain ranges, we enjoyed spectacular sights no matter where we looked.
 Off Hwy. 133 before the town of Somerset, we took a left onto Kebler Pass with an elevation of 9,980 feet. This was a narrow, gravel back road that led us through Gunnison National Forest where cattle still roam the open range. On this road we felt like we had entered a different world, a private world, a road that was leading us into an enchanted land were few, if any, people traveled. And it did not disappoint our heightened anticipation as we passed miles of tall aspen groves, very steep canyons dotted with elk hunters on horseback, a pretty creek, a few canyon ranches, and herds of mule deer. Towards the end of this pass we passed a thick grove of blue spruce to the right of us with snow still left over from last year while on our left was nothing but arid land. What a diverse and interesting land this was. This was real wilderness, and we loved it!!
 Leaving this wilderness, we came into Crested Butte, which was just really quaint and charming. You can count on this because even Jon said so! Actually there were a lot of “Oohs” and “Aaaahhhs” coming from everyone in our van as we drove through this town and its surrounding outskirts. This was ranch country with some of the world’s best fishing.
 That night we stayed at the Best Western in Gunnison Valley (south on Hwy. 135 to Hwy. 50), a Hamre favorite when they ski at Crested Butte. It did not take us long to see why, for the rooms were large, nice and reasonable; the heated pool was enclosed with glass for a view of the surrounding countryside; and the complimentary breakfast was both abundant and delicious including eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, and homemade waffles. This motel was so clean that we made an exception and swam in its pool several times. Boy, did we have fun! And in addition to all this, we even had a real cattle drive go right down the middle of the road in front of our motel the next morning. I couldn’t believe it! I was so excited that I kept saying to the kids, “Isn’t this great!” And it was! The only drawback was that I wasn’t on my horse helping them out.
 From here the Hamres took us west on Hwy. 50 and then west on Hwy. 92 to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. The countryside was very arid, but the Black Canyon, encompassing a 53-mile cleft, was gorgeous. From the top, it looked somewhat like the Grand Canyon, only the mountains were black. And indeed this canyon is the steepest in Colorado dropping over 2,000 feet down to over 14 miles of white water rapids. We hiked down the two-mile Pioneer Point Hiking Trail, which ended at the canyon lake. It was a rugged trail but worth the trip for all the beautiful scenery we experienced, both down and back up again. The rocks, trees, vegetation, and creek we passed were all very pretty. We also got to see our very first magpie.
 After the hike, we went back to Gunnison and visited the Traders Rendezvous, which housed every kind of stuffed game imaginable. It was like a museum. The men and boys then went trout fishing in the Gunnison River while all three of us girls went shopping in Crested Butte. After meeting back together and saying our goodbyes, we then parted and went further west, while the Hamres headed back to their Colorado property.
 No one could have been more anxious to please us than the Hamres, and please us they did. Words cannot adequately express our gratitude for the Colorado they showed us that many people never really see. Jay was so kind to stop every time we called on the walkie-talkie and said, “Can we stop to take a picture?” He was also the best campfire cook there is! And Kathy was the greatest tour guide anyone ever had, faithful to tell us interesting facts along every path and byway. It truly made our trip a wonderful memory that we will never forget.
 From the town of Gunnison, we headed west on Hwy. 50 to the Cimarron Valley, where we admired every pretty, green thousand-acre ranch we passed, to Montrose, which was a very pretty town in a very pretty valley at the base of the San Juan Mountains. This area really appealed to me as I wish we had the time to stay and explore more, but we needed to move on, so we headed south on Hwy. 550 to a small old town of Ridgway in another pretty valley with stunning mountains and herds of elk and mule deer.
 Then we headed southwest on Hwy. 62 and then southeast on Hwy. 145 to Telluride, whose bank was robbed by the infamous Butch Cassidy. But do not let that fool you into thinking that this is just your run-of-the-mill western town, for this place is gorgeous. Even the ride into Telluride, where the cattle truly run free with the beautiful waters of the San Miguel River in 500 acres of open pasture was gorgeous. The town itself is a box canyon, 9,000 feet above sea level, nestled amongst the San Juan Mountains. So not only is the town itself very picturesque, but also everywhere we turned we had a spectacular view of the San Juan mountain range. The town is not very big, so it only took us a few minutes to travel the main street to its end, which actually dead ends into the side of a mountain with a view of the Bridal Veil waterfall pouring down from the mountain. This is a very posh ski village that is referred to in the brochures as “the rich’s playground,” so be forewarned that the lodging is quite expensive for a family, but there is camping at the end of town by Bridal Veil Falls. There is also the Mountain Side Inn where we stayed for $59 a night. (It is clean and reasonable, but not a place I would ever go back to if I could help it.) After our morning walk around town, we took a free 3-mile gondola ride to the top of the San Juan Mountains, which offered a spectacular view of the surrounding countryside.
 Let me just add that when spring comes to this area in June, 25 feet of snow begins to melt creating the southwest’s largest rivers: the Rio Grande, San Juan, Dolores, San Miguel, Animas, and Uncompahgre.
 After leaving Telluride, we headed south on Hwy. 550 to Ouray. Surrounded by magnificent alpine vistas of snow-capped peaks, this town is aptly called the Switzerland of America. Ouray is also known for its therapeutic hot springs.
 Continuing south, this narrow, barely two-lane section of Hwy. 550, which winds through the San Juan Mountains connecting Ouray to Silverton, is considered to be one of our nation’s most scenic highways because of the spectacular view it offers of the San Juan Mountains. This route is called the Million Dollar Highway and truly offers 70 breathtaking miles of scenery.
 Silverton, known for its San Juan Mine consisting of 100 miles of underground tunnels, was founded by gold and silver miners in the 1870s. According to a placard, “Although it encompasses only 17 square miles, this area produced 4 million ounces of gold, 21 million ounces of silver, and 12 million tons of lead, zinc, and copper, which fueled the Industrial Revolution and supplied raw materials to support America’s involvement in both world wars.” Although this is quite impressive, the town of Silverton was not, nor did it have a good feel about it. So after quickly walking through town, we continued south on Hwy. 550 to Durango where we visited the Stratler Victorian Landmark Hotel and the Durango-Silverton Museum.
 I had already asked for Kathy’s opinion on whether to take the train from Durango to Silverton, and I believe her advice was very good. She told me that it was an all day trip, which is not only expensive, but also wastes an entire day when we can see basically the same scenery from our car. Instead, we toured the museum, which was very educational and fun. We were able to board several trains in the museum—engine car, passenger car, private sleeping car, and a caboose—and watch a great movie of an actual ride on the Durango/Silverton while we sat in a passenger car. The kids loved it. After the museum, on our way out of town we stopped for 30 minutes or longer to watch another cattle drive. We especially enjoyed watching some kids chase down the mavericks. There were a lot of ranches in this area.
 Our next stop was to Mesa Verde, our nation’s largest concentration of Indian ruins, located on Hwy. 160 just 44 miles west of Durango. Actually this is now a United Nations Heritage Site, yet when we questioned the ladies in the gift shop about how they felt about this being owned by the United Nations, they were genuinely oblivious to that fact, even though it was posted as such, right outside the door. Many Americans tend to discount the fact that the United Nations has its claws dug into America’s flesh because they believe it inconceivable that our officials would allow such a pervasive intrusion into our country. Yet the fact remains that they have, so it is our sacred duty to our founding fathers, who gave their lives so that we might live in a free land, to demand that our representatives expel the United Nations from this country of ours and free us of their intrusion as quickly as possible.
 Here we toured the unusual cliff dwellings abandoned long ago by the Anasazi Indians. Carved directly into the sheer cliffs of the mountains, with no apparent means by which to enter or exit, except perhaps by ropes that would have left their passengers dangling perilously above the deep chasms below, these dwellings were surreal. Although this was all very interesting, we felt a great spiritual battle raging there and were glad to leave.

Arizona

 From there we went south on Hwy. 160 and then west on 160 through the Ute and Navajo Indian Reservations, which was the most depressing country we have ever seen. It actually looked like this land had been forsaken by God, almost what one might imagine hell to be like. It was depressing!! We did go north on Hwy. 163 to see Monument Valley with its unusual rock formations jutting right out of the flats, but did not pay the price to go in to see more of the same of what we saw along the way. From here we turned around and headed back west on Hwy. 160, south on Hwy. 89, and west on Hwy. 64 to the south rim of the Grand Canyon.
 This 277 mile long, 10 mile wide, and 5,700 foot deep canyon is enormous, and it truly displays God’s grandeur. How anyone can even speculate that this magnificent canyon was created by anything other than the direct hand of God is beyond us. So after reflecting upon how great our God is, we lifted our voices in praise of all His magnificent attributes, singing hymns and “America the Beautiful.”
 What I found to be rather surprising, though, is how the ground just seems to open up with no warning of its existence. As we approached the rim of the canyon, I wondered how many fast-moving and unsuspecting cowboys on horseback plunged to their death in this vast chasm.
 First discovered by Spanish fortune seekers from Vasquez de Coronado’s expedition, they neither knew God nor cared what they came upon because history tells us that they were not too interested in its discovery and, in fact, were rather upset that it prohibited them from searching further for the mysterious Seven Cities of Cibola.
 That night we drove through the park and stayed at the Grand Hotel on the other side. It was a great hotel, both rustic and pretty. When it came time to eat, we entered the hotel’s Canyon Star Restaurant where a floorshow of dancing Indians was in progress. Here we enjoyed a great dinner of baby back ribs and maple cured, grilled pork loin, while we listened to a singing cowboy as he strolled from table to table. This was definitely a treat for all of us.
 While we were in the Grand Canyon, I read Down the Colorado with Major Powell. This extraordinary, one-armed man traveled the often treacherous 1,450 mile long, 76 to 300 foot wide, 35 to 100 foot deep Colorado River, which descended 11,000 feet in elevation from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado through the Grand Canyon to the Gulf of California in Mexico. It was not only a fascinating story, but also imparted the importance of wisdom and careful preparation during exploration.
 After seeing the effects of drought for so many miles, actually passing the ongoing fires in the dry Mesa Verde, going south on Hwy. 64, then south on Hwy. 180 to Flagstaff, Arizona was a very welcome change, especially the drive through the beautiful Oak Creek Canyon on our way to Sedona on Hwy. 89A. The children especially enjoyed sliding down the red rocks at Slide Rock Park, a natural 79 foot long waterslide. (But if you go, be sure to wear pants, as you are actually sliding on bare rock surfaces, which bruise the flesh.)
 That evening, we entered Sedona at sunset just as the last of the sun’s rays were glistening off unusual red rock formations in this rugged desert dotted with pine, sage, and cactus. Needless to say, it was enchanting. Here we stayed at the very special Best Western Arroyo Roble Hotel/Creekside Villas right at the base of the mountain. And again we made an exception that night and swam in their beautiful pool, which was both lit and heated, situated right on the edge of the desert. It was marvelous!!

New Mexico

 From Sedona we took Hwy. 89A north, then east on Hwy. 40, then north on Hwy. 25 to Santa Fe, New Mexico, the second oldest city in America, where time seemed to stand still. Here we felt that we had been transported back 400 years, due to the fact that Santa Fe adheres to very strict ordinances requiring all businesses to conform to the original adobe style architecture of the Pueblo Indians who originally settled here. Even the Spaniards, who came in 1609, adopted this adobe style, adding very little in the way of Spanish architecture.
 First we watched the Indians sell their turquoise jewelry in front of the Governor’s Mansion, which we then toured. After the tour, we had lunch at one of the local Mexican haciendas, and then walked the streets on the Old Santa Fe Trail, which took us by the famous St. Francis Cathedral and the San Miguel Chapel, the oldest building in America, dating back to 1610. From the chapel we walked around the very beautiful and very unusual Inn at Loretto, and then went to Fred Harvey’s La Fonda Inn.
 After Santa Fe we went north on Hwy. 285/68 to Taos, another old, old town that seemed to stand frozen in time. Taos was a Spanish mission outpost established in 1615. In the 1800s fur traders and frontiersmen flocked there as well. It was here that we saw the Chisholm Trail, the Rio Grande River, Kit Carson’s home, and the fascinating La Hacienda de los Martinez. Built in 1804, this very extensive ranching operation became an important trade center connecting New Mexico with Mexico City. Taos also became a very significant trading post for me because this is where my daughter haggled with Mexicans to purchase the steer’s skull I always dreamed of owning. Of course, we did not know that the horns had been plastered into the skull until later, but I love it anyway.
 As I have mentioned before, we always encourage the children to select something memorable on each trip we take. Up to this point, Jedidiah had yet to pick out his gift, so when we passed these skulls, I asked Jon to turn around so Jedidiah could purchase the gift of a lifetime and went on and on to Jedidiah about this wonderful opportunity. After about five minutes of my elaboration on how thrilling it was to purchase an authentic steer’s skull in New Mexico where John Chisholm (my favorite John Wayne character) had herded his cattle, and how great it would look in his cowboy room, my son looked at me and said, “Mom, I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but I do not want a steer’s skull for my gift.” I was shocked to say the least, as I could hardly believe what I was hearing. Not want a steer’s skull! What are you talking about? Had the gene pools made a mistake? Was this my son?
 Quickly, I recounted the facts; yes, he loved to rope and ride horses. Yes, he liked John Wayne. Okay, so he did question why I was placing a coil of barbed wire on his wall and gave me that incredulous look when I said that it was aesthetically necessary; but then boys can be like that, so I quickly shrugged off that incident. Was he sick? Okay, I had to quickly change gears. He did not want it, but I knew in later years he would appreciate it. So though I already had my gift, I could not pass up the selection of a lifetime! And yes, Jon was more than generous allowing me to buy this thing that no one but myself wanted (which made its placement in our home a little scary for Jon) especially since it took up most of our back seat.
 Who were these people I had lived with all these years? I used to think that we were all like-minded, and now to my dismay, no one liked the skull but me. Well, it now hangs in my sons’ room right next to John Wayne’s picture, a pair of spurs, and that string of barbed wire I told you about, right over two leather chairs (which are really vinyl that I pretend are real leather) and truly looks spectacular!!! And I know that it came from the Chisholm Trail even though no one else cares.
 Someday when I am gone, I hope that one of my children will have it hanging somewhere in their home, preferably not in the attic, and will be faithful to tell their children where it came from and who was responsible for its acquisition. (In reading this to the family, Josiah informed me that he really likes it, so it immediately became his, who by his genuine comments, convinced me that it would not hang in his attic but would be given a prominent place of honor in his home.)

Our Homeward Trip

 From Taos we drove back down to Hwy. 40 and came east on Hwys. 40 and 44 until we came to Will Rogers’ home and museum in Claremore, Oklahoma. This museum was the most well thought out, interesting museum we have ever toured; however, we did not know that Will Rogers was a Socialist until after reading the plaques on the walls and observing his companions. That fact was disappointing, but the museum was really neat. From there we drove straight home to our glorious home sweet home.
 Thus I have shared with you our marvelous trip out west, but, in all fairness, I must also express Jon’s and my spiritual distress as we traveled through Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. Throughout this entire region, we felt a spiritual oppression, and although we were having a great time, we longed for home. During the entire trip, except for the chapels we saw in Santa Fe and in Taos, we only remember seeing one other church. We felt like we were walking among the living dead, but in fact were spiritually grieved by the very active demonic spiritual life that was there.
 Who settled the West but Indians who worshipped the creature rather than the Creator; miners, prospectors, and Spaniards who worshipped gold; outlaws who worshipped themselves; and independent souls who cut their established roots and family ties to forge their own way and blaze their own trail. As much as we like the romance of the range and cattle drives, after visiting the West, we realized it was not for us. How sad that God had created so much beauty, and yet the people who lived there (with I’m sure some exceptions) fail to acknowledge Him as their Lord. I’m sure that the ministries that have recently moved into Colorado, specifically into Colorado Springs, could use our prayers for strength to take dominion over the hearts and minds of the people and the land for God.