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In December 2011 I spoke about Ned Wynkoop at the Tattered Cover bookstore in LoDo (downtown Denver). I love LoDo, but you won’t believe that when you read what follows. There are two Hyatt hotels in LoDo, and if I were rich I would make either one of them my permanent residence. That sounds positive, doesn’t it. Hell, go back a few years and I almost accepted a writing position in Boulder. That also sounds positive.
Layton Hooper is cleaning the snow from my rental car (a Chevy Cruz) in his front yard. Layton and his pretty wife, Vicki, were perfect hosts, and I had a great time being snowbound with them in Fort Collins. Layton is doing the work as he was fearful that I’d fall on my ass and be hospital bound on April 20 during the OIW symposium. ‘Course I didn’t ease his fears when I slipped all over the place in my cold-weather moccasins. (Photo © Louis Kraft 2013)
You realize that I had bought into Colorado’s sales pitch of 300 days of sunshine. Hell, I live in SoCal. We have sunshine! I don’t know what the hell Colorado is selling, but it ain’t what this ol’ boy enjoys in Los Angeles.
Back to the story. That sunny 2011 December morn I arrived in Denver. All looked good, but I had heard rumors that cut into the sunshine publicity. The next morning, the day of the Ned Wynkoop talk, the first thing I did was yank open the curtains and look south into LoDo. Everything was white and there was enough glare/backlight that I could see the snow falling. It proved to be a good trip: I saw Jerry Greene, an Indian wars writer/historian/pal (I don’t mean to name drop, but I want to pitch my friends), the talk went well at the Tattered Cover, Barnes & Noble also stocked Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek (2011), … Best yet it took an hour and a half for the ice defroster to clean the plane before it could take off that Sunday evening and return me safely to SoCal and sunshine.
Marissa at Tujunga House on Christmas day. (Photo © Marissa & Louis Kraft 2012)
I spent a wonderful Christmas with Marissa, my daughter, last December. Actually, all my days with her are to die for—I’m lucky.
This month I returned to Colorado to again speak about Wynkoop. The fellow who hired me, Layton Hooper, and I had become long-distance friends. When the Order of Indian Wars symposium wasn’t putting me up at a hotel in Centennial, where the event took place at a great National Guard post, he opened his house to me. Layton and his pretty wife, Vicki, made me feel at home. (A lot will follow on Layton and Vicki, but not in this post). This post, if you haven’t realized it by now, deals with Colorado’s 300 days of sunshine.
Again I had landed in sunny Colorado (April 14, 2013), and again on the following morning disaster struck. Only now, I wasn’t snug and secure in a Hyatt in LoDo, nor was I in Centennial within walking distance of the National Guard post. Hell no, for I was staying w/Layton and Vicki in their gorgeous home in Fort Collins (some 80 miles from where I was going to do Sand Creek research in Denver and even farther from Centennial). I shot a roll of film (yep, I have an antique camera) dealing with the “winter wonderland” that the U.S. calls Colorado. Do you realize that I have actually considered moving to Denver? There are two people in my life and one object: Marissa, my girlfriend (when I have one, but this is an open slot for a VIP in my life), and my car.
The Vette at first light at Tujunga House. As you’ll see, it talks to me and plays a big role in what I do and don’t do. (Photo © Louis Kraft 2011)
After returning home in December 2011, I told my car about the horror of what I had lived through: That I had slipped and almost fell, and had whacked my big toe so badly on the curb that I almost crashed to the frozen ground (but luckily didn’t do a back flop) while walking up the hill to the hotel after the Tattered Cover talk, and it (that is the Corvette) made it clear to me that it had no intention of living in the land of 300 days of sunshine. It told me that if I moved to Colorado, that at the first opportunity when we were cruising on a mountain road, that it would lock the brakes, and then when I accelerated it would hold the pedal down until the speed reached 240 mph. It implied that it would smile as we flew into the wild blue yonder in the land of 300 days of sunshine.
Look at the bright side, the Vette hasn’t complained about hurricanes yet. ‘Course I haven’t mentioned living in the Southeast yet. Am sure that it will then remind me what happened to Dorothy (and that was in Kansas and just a mild tornado).
I need to return to Colorado and its 300 days of sunshine one more time for I need to share my favorite image from the April 2012 trip to the land I really thought I eventually would call home. On the plus side, Colorado has great historians, great restaurants, great theater, gorgeous women (I could mention one I try to visit every time I’m in Denver and can walk more than 10 yards without falling on my rear end in the white stuff that I thought only came when Santa Claus paid a visit), … a very pretty lady (alas, with a boyfriend) who works at the Evans/Byers house. If she sees this post, I’m certain she’ll bash me when next I say hello. … But as they say, “All’s fair in love and war.”—
This view is from the glass door at the rear of Layton and Vicki’s home in Fort Collins; that is from their kitchen/dining area/family room that we spent many (and I mean “many”) happy hours in during my visit. I took many photos from the exact same location during my visit. They got progressively worse and worse. On the right of this image you should see two houses. Looking back (west) you should see the western and lower region of what is the Rocky Mountains. Like I’ve been talking about—300 days of sunshine. ‘Course all my pals disagree with what I’ve seen with my own eyes. And of course they’re Cheyenne Indian wars historians, so what can one expect? Layton, on the other side, is an Apache wars historian, … he should be able to recognize the truth when it has him surrounded. I’m certain if Geronimo saw this white stuff that is useless (it isn’t even any good for throwing snowballs), he’d be heading south for old Mexico as fast as he could run. … Mr. Mike Koury, another thought for you; it’s time you joined the program. (Photo © Louis Kraft 2013)