Mine the Harvest

Christmas in Colorado

by on Jan.01, 2008, under Uncategorized

For Christmas / Yule this year Syd and I went to Colorado for a visit with friends and family. We took a week off and had a great time. First we flew into Denver and stayed the night with some very good friends, Erich and his wife Kristin. (Erich has been know to read this blog and comment so I have to be nice . . . hehe) Actually, we have known each other for about 23+ years (OMG!) or so but I don’t get to see him much these days, so it was a real pleasure seeing them. We had a great time playing some board games and visiting. Can’t wait to see you guys again.

The next day we spent the morning with some old time friends in south Denver, the Vickland / Valdez clan. It was wonderful to see everyone and Juanita prepared a wonderful traditional Mexican lunch for us, home-made tortillas, carne and delicious deserts. It was so nice seeing everyone.

Then it was time to drive to Gunnison. We like the drive from Denver to Gunnison, it is a pleasant 4 hour trip. I’ve done it so many times I think I could draw a topographical map of the route. The scenery was beautiful as always and the blizzard they had just had a few days before posed no problem on the roads. We arrive at my folks’ ranch the evening of the 23rd.

Spending Christmas at the ranch with mom and dad was perfect. There was tons of snow – far more than usual – and it made for quite the Christmas spectacle. It was a very classic Colorado Christmas. Here are a few pictures of how it looked, though they of course don’t due justice. (Click for larger view.)

Ranch Christmas         Ranch Gate       Buried Truck

For you Tampa bay guys, here is what the thermometer was reading most mornings – it was colder than this at night of course. We loved it.


The bad news was that on Christmas day Syd became ill – apparently having contracted the flu on our trip there. She felt pretty crappy Christmas day with a fever and all the pleasure that accompanies the seasonal plague. I came down with it the next day, and unfortunately we would have the bug for about the next 10 days, so the rest of our trip we had to contend with it. It was quite the tenacious virus, the fever returning multiple times, etc. It made us too weak and ill feeling to do many things outdoors while we were at the ranch, so we mainly stayed inside and visited, which with the company, the warm fireplace and the horses and pup was hardly bad at all.


Cheri mad a fantastic traditional Christmas turkey dinner with all the accompaniments. Needless to say it was all incredibly delicious and was a perfect way to feel right at home for the Holiday. Though pictures never due justice, here are a few:

Roast Beast          Let’s Eat!         Chow Line

I did dig out a snowmobile with the high expectations we could take a couple of them out for a ride, but that was as far as the endeavor was destined to go.

There was so much snow, it was quite the contrast comping from Tampa. The first night there the sky was so perfectly clear and the night pitch black with no moon. It got down to about -17 below that night, so the air was crystal clear. The milky way was so bright it was amazing. There were so many stars, it took me a minute to orient myself.

Night Wreath             Icicles

We saw the horses quite a bit, feed them each day and moved them to a neighbors pasture one day, so we did get some horse contact time. They are all doing well, but I wish we could have gone for a ride. There was really too much snow for it though.

Warpaint and Breezy         Foof          Nitro

There was a rather suspicious looking character in with the herd, but he seemed pretty harmless . . . he may have been a reindeer, but we are unsure.


While there we were able to see the new trophy room. Russ and Cheri had just completed the final details on the interior the week before and had hosted a party with some friends. They now have a great place where they can display their African and North American game in style. It came out looking fantastic. They have been wanting a place to display the memories of their hunts for a while now and this brings that to an accomplished fullfillment.

Here are a few pictures of the trophy room. Click for full size:

Trophy Cape Buffalo         Trophy Giraffes         Trophy Bar Cabinets

Here is a picture of the mule deer I got last year, and the one my mom got the year before. (Her’s is on the right, mine the left.)

Trophy Mule Deer

We really enjoyed our stay in Gunnison, it is such a great community and environment. The contrast between how friendly people are in town there vs. here in Tampa bay is shocking. We love it there and it always feels like home whenever we are back.

I met with Greg from GL Computers in town, whom I used to work with when we last lived there 3 years ago. It was a pleasure seeing him and hearing about how well his business is doing.

After about five days at the ranch we had to return to Denver. Our rental car at this point was terrified and wanted nothing more than to return to the comfort of paved city roads and the comfort of the car lot. It was in an alien world here, were there were no other cars, on diesel trucks and everything 4-wheel drive. I think we scared the poor thing to death. It did an admirable job though, despite being a little 4 cylinder. I am sure it was happy to head back to the barn.

Scared Car

On our drive back to town we stopped for a visit to see Dan and JoLene. It was hard to believe it had been 14 months since we had last seen them. It was great hanging out and chatting, really miss seeing you guys more. Jaeden (now 2) is looking pretty adorable. Dan recently got her one of the new One Laptop Per Child notebooks, the XO – a tiny, Linux based notebook for kids as being developed and distributed through the OLPC project. It was completely and utterly cool. (He bought one and donated one to another child through a program designed to do this.) I love the idea that these extremely affordable systems are becoming available to kids the world over. And if gets them using Linux – solidifying it’s future domination of the world.

We spent that night with our good friend Carolyn and her friend Christopher. It’s been a year since we last saw Carolyn and we truly enjoyed getting caught up again. She made us a wonderful dinner and always makes us feel at home. Webster was happy to see us too and stayed the whole night with us by the fire.

Carolyn and Webster

The next day we were off to the airport, missing our flight as we were a tad late. By late I mean not at least :45 early, so they wouldn’t allow us to check in as we would not be able to travel with our bags per TSA regulations. The helpful representative explained we would fly stand by on the next flight and standby on our connection in Houston. She reassured us that, even if we didn’t make the first flight out of Houston our bags would and if we got the next one they would be in Tampa waiting for us. What an interesting set of regulations. Sure am glad they have put so much though into ensuring our safety.

Once back it was good to be home – we were like the walking dead on the day we flew back, finally getting home about midnight. Slept and didn’t move much the next day. I actually didn’t make in in to work on Monday as the fever came back. We battled it out for the next week and eventually got recovered from the biologic weapon we were so obviously exposed to.

It is always great to see friends and family, especially for the Holidays. We had a great time, and already can’t wait until our next trip to Colorado. Thank you every one for making the time to see us and making us feel at home, we love you all.

Pete & Syd

1 comment for this entry:
  1. JoLene Kucera

    It was great to see you guys for a few minutes while you were here. We hope that we will be able to make it down there next summer (Orlando is prime child territory) and we hope that you would take some time to do the Disney thing. I really like being able to catch up on what you have been up to.

    Love ya,
    JoLene, Dan and Jaeden

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