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The Shelter


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11/22/10, La Garita, CO - Yesterday, while driving back from Alamosa to pick up some supplies, I was captivated by the sight of the San Juan Mountains to my west. Great gray masses of clouds were spilling off the peaks and sending tendrils of snow into the valley.  To the east, the clouds were floating across the valley, only to stopped by the lofty height of the Sangre De Cristo Range. As I turned west on the poorly marked road to La Garita, I soon became enshrouded in a world of white. After a few minutes the storm briefly abated, leaving a fine coating of snow on the landscape.

Later, while having supper with my good friends Bonnie and Jerry, another squall passed through the area, depositing another half inch of snow.  After dinner, I retired to a warm wagon, that is parked behind the trading post. As I sat in the warmth and comfort, with the ice crystals swirling outside, I though of how this once bustling town received it’s name.  The English translation of the name La Garita is ‘The Shelter’. It must have been on a night like this, long ago, that settlers named the burg.  As the early storms rolled down the mountainsides, they would have retreated to their adobe houses, warmed by a burning fire and the hearts of their loved ones.  At such a time, the words “La Garita” would have come easily to thier lips.


The Three Amigos, fat and happy, munching alfalfa, in the lee of a cluster of old buildings on their 80 acres pasture. Each of them is now sporting an additional 100 pounds of flesh and nice 1 1/2 inch long coats.  The soft look in their eyes tells me that they really enjoying their life, wandering around the place, munching buffalo grass, scratching their bellies on the willows that crowd the banks of Cannera Creek, and generally just being horses.

My reunion with the team was much as I expected. Horses are not given to emotional displays of affection, they are far more subtle. After Jerry and I drove up with some alfalfa in the back of the truck, Bill walked right by me, to bury his head in the hay.  Unlike a dog, who will nearly wet himself with excitement when his master returns, you have to look close in the eye of a horse to see that they are pleased to see you.  After all, they have certain behavioral standards to maintain.

 In the short term, I plan on relaxing and visiting with some friends. I’m also going to give Jerry and Bonnie a hand with some chores around the place. If the wind blows cold and snowy off the peaks, I can always retreat to ‘The Shelter’.