"Sound Beats Print ... Pictures Beat Sound"

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Valley View Hot Springs Summer of 71'

Valley View Hot Springs is probably the best kept secret in the whole of south central Colorado. During the boom of the 1st World War, Colorado Fuel and Iron Works opened a iron ore mine called The Orient at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo mountains. This hot springs is a few miles north of the mine site. At that time, it was developed as resort for the miners to spend their money. It had an bar that was built in the shape of an octagon. And a whorehouse that was painted pink on the inside. One long hallway down the middle and cribs on either side of the hall. The developers dug out the springs {There are several}, and lined the walls with rock.

That whole thing had fallin' into a state of decay by the 1970's, and was home to a couple who were care takers in exchange for a place to live. I think it was like 50 cents to use the springs. The " Small Pool " in these pictures was just big enough to hold a couple. It had a sand bottom. Sitting in it, the water came just to my chin. The water temp was perfect, and bubbles came out of the sand and tickled your ass.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Made a " Field Trip " today , The last warmth of fall is about to be driven out of the county tonight.
Gave my wood tools to my old friend Larry today ..... and some odds and ends. In the stuff, was a copy of a photo.......from my May, 1967 high school paper. Me, Carol, and my 1954 Ford it is painted with 39 different colors from spray paint cans. Sorry it's a black & white copy.
The article was about me and Carol being " Unconventional". It was a feat in Lubbock, Texas back in 1967 to be " Unconventional".
Carol was in trouble for wearing mini-skirts, and I was just in trouble. It's a hell of a picture folks .... Time magazine ..... " Turned me on".... I read about the poster revolution way out in San Fran. That was in Feb. of 67' .... and being a teenager who was dumb enough to want to be an artist, I looked into it. I'd never heard the word "Hippy" before that . Two months after that article, I was deep into it .... That's went this is made.
I have some good stories about that Ford ..... my mom sold it for 6 books of green stamps.
Carol had a great pair of legs. She was a real dish. Right out of an Elvis movie.

Valley View Hot Springs Summer of 71'

More later.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


If you haven't seen the Freeway Blogger. take a look.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Turn on your Java Script and visit my new project :
The Conservative Floating Fat Head File

Teach the kids all about the GAS GIANTS !

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Friday, November 24, 2006

Traveling With Jose'

This guy is my oldest friend. I met him in the 7 th grade at O.L. Slaton Jr. High. Like many male friendships, ours developed at first as a " Pissin' Contest " , but it gave way years later to the bond that people develop when they go through time and space together. We went through some space together, several thousand miles of it hitchhiking, and even more in Joe's old band van.

One trip that has forever stuck in my mind is a journey down from Grand Lake, Colorado to the Mineral Hot Springs in the summer of 1970. Grand Lake is located on the west side of the Rocky Mountain National Park, and the trip from there to south central Colorado where the Hot Springs is situated is one of the most spectacular in all of North America. We made good time until we reached the base of Berthoud Pass . There, at the western entrance to the Moffat Rail Road Tunnel, we stalled out and had been sitting for several hours. Now, Jose' was in possession of the last joint, and was in no mood to light it. But, I explained the we had no chance of getting a ride unless we smoked the doobie, and could tell whoever picked us up that we had , " Just Smoked the Last One ". Sure enough, not 10 min. after Jose' relented, and fired it up ..... a red late 40's Chevy pick-up stopped . We hopped in the bed, and the trip just got more interesting with each mile marker we passed.

Now, Berthoud is what lumber jacks call , " A Widow Maker " .... it's high & steep, with lots of switchbacks, and in 1970 there were no improvements as I'm sure there are today. As we moved up the mountain, the weather closed in so our benefactors in the cab stopped and let us into the front. There we were, 4 guys jammed into a 1940's pick-up cab. But the interesting part was the odd couples nature of our party. The fellows in "Ole' Red" were two 17 year-old sons of ranchers from Oklahoma. They had gottin' a wild hair, thrown their saddles in the back of " Ole' Red " and took off for Montana. Somewhere on their trip, they had crossed paths with another hippy named Nathaniel, and he had supplied them with some LSD. Needless to say their politics had begun to change, which is why we go that ride over Berthoud Pass. Like I had forecast, we told them that we had, " Just Smoked the Last One ".

As night began to fall that day we were trying to get through Leadville , Colorado .... North America's highest incorporated city (10,430 feet elevation). Then it began to drizzle, then it began to do that weird Colorado weather thing where it's ice pellets, no it's rain, no it's snow, no it's tiny snowballs. Anyway it was damn cold, even for the middle of summer as every tourist who's ever gone to the Rockies knows. As we reached the south side of Leadville, we began to look for a place to shelter for the night. As our good luck would have it, off on the west side of the road in the darkness, was an old one room school house. We made our way over the barbed wire fence, and into the building that a rancher had converted into feed shed. Half of the room had been used for hay storage while the rest was a large corn bunker. Having no way to get warm, we proceeded to bury our selves up to our necks in a large pile of shelled feed corn .

There we spent the night with just our disembodied heads sitting on that pile of corn. We didn't get much sleep due to the weather and just the plain funny nature of our condition. As the dawn began to break on the upper Arkansas River Valley due east of Mt. Elbert, Colorado's highest "14er", we were getting up and shaking off the kernels. Joe wandered to the door to step out side for some relief, and said, " Robert come here ". Off to our west, across the meadow that sloped down to the river were what must have been a thousand sheep, all with their heads pointed straight at that school house, and walking right for the front door of that corn bin. After the shock of that view wore off, it dawned on us the the rancher who owned our little bed and breakfast must on his way. As we scrambled out onto the shoulder of the highway and began walking south again, there came the beat-up pea green International Harvester pick-up of the sheepman. He slowed, gave us the eye ball, but proceeded on. The next time I passed that one room school the place was boarded-up.

Today Jose' owns a furniture and cabinet shop in Sarasota, Fla. and the Yellow Coco Lodge in Costa Rica.

A bit more on Berthoud Pass

Colorado is dangerous ..... and they have the liability laws to prove it. If for example you visit and want to say take a horse back ride at one of the many stables, the only reason you can afford to rent the horse is their liability law. Or you decide to ride the rapids down the Arkansas below Salida, your ticket is made affordable by that law. I'm not sure what the limit is today, but it's just a few hundred grand. Without it, a lift ticket at Vail would be $10,000 instead of the more reasonable $5,000 it is today.
This liability also includes the state of Colorado. Several years ago the Colorado Highway Dept. was working on the east side of Berthoud Pass. It's the east side that's the real joy ride of the two. It's the prototypical mountain pass from fiction. Long grades cut into the side of the mountain at steep angles, and when they ran out of mountain ..... a 10 m.ph hairpin turn . Then another of the same to the other point where the mountain quits, and another hairpin. I forget how many, but this goes on and on until the top of the pass. The mountain is so steep that one can look off the side of the road, and if the trees permit, you can see the road at what looks like your feet just below you.
In nature ... the rocks are always coming down off the mountain so it's up to the Highway Boys to get out there, and control this chaos as best as they can. Thats what they were doing one day with a huge boulder near the top, trying to move it so it wouldn't do the gravity dance all the way to the bottom.
But, it got away from the front end loader, and started down the mountain. Every few hundred feet coming down, it would cross the road. Half way down the mountain it went through the side of a tour bus carrying Japanese tourists, and killed several of them. The bus didn't slow that boulder at all. It went ALLLL the way to the bottom.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


I have always loved a good hat. The wilder the better. Some of the ones I made.

Ski Hat ..... Skunk and wool point blanket.

Beaver Hat for Bob Barr another leather artist. Macaw feathers, abalone shell, bead work, cones & horsehair, deer skin band.

Hat band. Deer skin, bead work, fluted silver buttons.

Scrap hat .... Deer, elk, burning & dye work, all hand sewn.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006



In the summer of 1970, a group of hippies from Minneapolis, Minnesota, moved onto a 10 acre patented mining claim just about where the last "e" in Slaughterhouse is on this topo map. They camped out in the " Big Meadow " and built the " Main Cabin "....... They didn't build it very fast, cause Al Jensen had a big block of hash he had smuggled back from India. And after the Morning Chilum, everyone would wonder off for awhile. But they had more than enough people, and after long glorious summer it was more or less "tight".

I happened to meet all these folks, because I had made my way to another commune that had started up that same summer. In fact that part of Colorado was blooming hippies that summer, there was another big summer commune just over those mountains to the northeast of Slaughterhouse Creek at a place called Sliver Creek. That one was a project of the Denver Free University, and they were all in teepees and domes for that summer. But by far the sweetest one was the one at The Mineral Hot Springs, Colorado, and that's where I ended up that summer, plus most of the next year too.

We had a bath house, a swimming pool, a motel & cafe, gas station, and a big ole' water tank on a two story tower. That was all on three hundred and sixty acres with some of the hottest mineral water you'll ever try to sit in. Most of the folks at our place were from California, a real bunch of granola crunchers.

But back to Slaughterhouse Creek ..... and the whole point of this post. My old friend Jose' just sent me his copy of the invitation to the 20th Reunion at Slaughterhouse Creek, and I reprint it in all it's glory.

Friday, November 17, 2006

This Could be the Best Clip on U Tube

Sheep Shack on the Arkansas

Smelter Town Colorado .... a suburb of Salida
In the fall of 1972 , I was living up on the mountain at Slaughter House Creek, Colorado. The metaphorical wolf was at the door, so I went down to Salida to get food stamps. The nice lady there informed me that Richard Nixon was well aware of people like me, and that I would need to apply at least 3 places to try and gain employment. " No Problem " ... I thought, so around the corner to the employment office I went. Secure in the knowledge that a guy that looked like this, wasn't about to get a job in the "Banana Belt of the Rockies".
And sure enough, those folks sent me to The Mill and Cabinet Shop, owned by a little fellow named Picie {Pie See} Hilton. Suddenly I found myself bullshitting Mr. Hilton about my carpentry skills, and on the road to gainful employment.

Knowing zero people in Salida, my next problem was a place to live, and after leaving the cabinet shop I asked around and was directed to a man named Johnny, that managed the above property for his mother. I rented the place for $5 a month and I was on my way.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

On This Day in History

On this day :
1776 Hessians capture Fort Washington, Manhattan

Ft. Washington was located near the present day east anchorage of the G.W. bridge. General Washington stood on the west anchorage in New Jersey, and watched as the Hessians massacred many of their American POW's, under what was known as the " Right of Quarter".

Seeing this, the General gave orders that from that point on, prisoners in American custody were not to be harmed.

5 weeks later, when the Hessians awoke to the Americans in the streets of Trenton, no one was executed. Thus our policy of treatment of prisoners was set for this country.

230 years ago.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Odds N' Ends

These things are very very old, and appear all over the world. This one is lined with beeswax. The white stuff is raw hide, and the plug on top is made from a deer antler tip. I was lucky enough to do some work for the Autry Museum of the West and gave it to my contact there. A canteen almost like this one appears in a Fredrick Remmington painting in their collection.

A 70's icon, my girl friend developed this style working in Estes Park. We made these things in batches of 36 and couldn't keep up in the summer of 75'. This one is a display item I made for a Tandy Leather store I managed. White deer skin, horse hair. glass beads ..... the designs are burnt and dyed.

Oil tanned cow hide, hand sewn, design burnt into leather. Another Tandy store sample.

Sorry for the poor picture, I was never very good about taking pictures of my work. These are made from two types of elk skin for the uppers, and an alum tanned cow hide soles & bead work.

The blonde uppers are made of a thick split oil tanned elk, the darker leather is a green elk & is fringed. The soles are wet molded, are 1/4 of an inch thick, and have the toe that Apache's were fond of using. They buttoned up the side using Indian head penny buttons.

This thing is a dark forest green, and is made from Whitney Point Trade blanket & elk skin. It has antler buttons. Again, the designs in the elk are burnt into the leather.

The Whitney Co. made the famous Hudson's Bay Trade Blankets. They are still in business, and have been making wool blankets since the latter part of the 17th century. The famous " Points" on the blankets were an easy way to tell the size of the blanket when it was folded up, and are just a series of hash marks dyed in one corner .... The more marks the bigger the blanket. This was used in the barter of beaver pelts. One "point" ... one beaver, four "Points" .... four beaver pelts.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Chris Byars

This is an outfit I made for Chris Byars of Salida, Colorado. The shirt and pants were all hand laced and sewn.

Chris is a sculptor that works in very large steel pieces. One of his works you all have seen is in front of the Time/Warner building in NYC. Before CNN moved their " American Morning " set, Chris's piece could be seen in the windows. If you visit downtown Salida, Colorado, Chris painted many of their stock of 19th century buildings, one of Colorado's best.

Sunday, November 12, 2006



This coat is the first thing I ever made out of sheep skin. The pinkish color comes from the fact that it is tanned using the bark-tan method. The trim is cow hide, and was hand sewn with linen thread. The buttons are "Walking Liberty" fifty cent coins. All these coats had "wind flaps" ie a strip of sheep skin sewn on the front edge, that tucked inside to block the wind.

This coat was one of a series I made. They all had designs burnt and dyed into them. This picture doesn't show them very well. The "wind flap" can be seen though.

The first sheep skin vest I ever made. Buffalo nickel buttons. By the time these pictures were made, I had settled into using just deer, elk, and sheep. I rarely ever made anything from other skins. I must have cut up a medium size herd of deer & elk or the years. I stretched every deer & elk skin I used. You get the hide wet, wring out the excess water, and staple it to a flat wooden surface. As this is done, you pull the hide. Then when it's dry, it's as flat as a sheet of paper. That's a mule deer skin on the side of that shed, on my right.


The Dark Horse Leather Shop

This coat is made from chrome tan sheep, hence the white color. The burnt and dyed design work is clearly seen in this picture. I couldn't make these coats fast enough. At the time I had a source for extremely large sheep skins, so I could make them really long, there are just two pieces in the back.

Friday, November 10, 2006

One of the Eyes of Texas

The best Halloween costume I ever made.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Leather Burnings

This is a format I used a lot. These pieces are deer or elk skin stretched over 3/4" plywood blanks. They are 30" X 20".

Starting at the top :

Bob Wills

Charlie Russell & " Wild Bill "

Buffalo Bill , Charlie Russell , & "Hoppy"

Unfortunately, the details I was able to achieve with the burner, doesn't come through in these pictures. Items like " Will Bill's " hair, for example.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Leather Burnings

In the early spring of 1974, I started doing " Leather Burnings ". This are images burnt into the leather using what is commonly called wood burning tools or an electric pen. These two are after a Remmington pen and ink, and are done on mule deer skins. The hoops I made from popular, and are 5 ft. in diameter by 6 in. by 1/2 in. The lower picture is me lacing the hide into the hoop, and is inverted to show the image. These two pieces are in south Texas, on either side of a fireplace in a private collection.

Friday, November 03, 2006

More Leather Work

This is probably the nicest shirt I ever made, It's certainly one of the most complex. All the fringe doubles as the seam. In other words the seam is made by punching a double row of holes in one seam edge, and the fringe, on the other seam edge, is threaded through the holes and a knot is tied . It's one of the oldest ways to make a garment.

I used to tell people that Leather work is the second oldest profession. It came right after prostitution.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Won't You Join Me ?