Tuesday, May 27, 2014

First map of the San Juan Basin was lovely, if not accurate ...

This gorgeous hand-drawn map was crafted by Captain Bernardo de Miera y Pacheco, a retired military engineer when he was a member of the 1776 Dominguez & Escalante Expedition, sent by the Spanish crown to explore the Four Corners region. The map incorporates many names we're familiar with today, and first bestowed by Juan Maria Antonio de Rivera in his 1765 explorations through southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah, including the Animas, Dolores, and the San Juan itself.

See a large version via the UC Berkeley Library.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

On the river -- at last!

The weather may have curtailed this weekend's Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, but a few of us managed to slip in a lovely half-day float down the Animas Valley between this Memorial Day weekend's waves of cold and wet.

The stretch north of Durango, from Trimble Bridge to 32nd Street, where most trips put in for the "town run," is little visited. The reason, I suppose, is it's a flatwater run, and so of little appeal to most. And it takes a while: although a boat on a river is trending southward, most of the time it's actually traveling east and west, meandering leisurely in great bowtie waves. So you gotta just want to ... float. And paddle.

But we're appealed. Because what we found on this reach of the Animas River were grandiose views of the redrock-lined valley (many of the same sandstone layers found in Canyonlands and along the Colorado River along Powell Reservoir), great stands of spring-green cottonwoods, and long looks back up at the snowy -- freshly snowy today, in fact -- San Juans.

In most other places, this would be a national park.

Today, for us, it was a lovely backyard run.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Karate is all about kicks, kata, and community

If you come to the Durango Open Karate Tournament, at Escalante Middle School tomorrow (Saturday, May 3 -- spectators free), then you'll get to see some of the finest martial artists in western Colorado and northwestern New Mexico -- and many others on their way to one day being among the finest -- in action.

You'll get to see an entertaining athletic competition as practitioners of a wide range of traditional styles of martial arts challenge each other -- and, most importantly, themselves -- in kata (forms), weapons kata, and kumite (point sparring). The top three winners in each of up to 35 divisions earn trophies.

It's fun, and even inspiring, to see these karateka of ages 6 to 70 or more, and range of skill levels from white belt to karate master, put it out there, to do publicly and competitively what is a really a deeply personal endeavor and practice.

But if you watch closely, you'll witness in action something else even more unique and powerful -- and much too rare in our form of society today: A true vertically integrated community.