Rangely Review: On the fall color tour

RANGELY — October’s bright blue weather had already begun when the Rangely Rambler departed for a never-to-be-forgotten fall color tour up the Flattops Trail that would include side trips to Marvine Ranch and South Fork.
I can only hope to convey in this little story just a smidgen of the beauty and pure joy experienced by the 10 travelers and their wonderful bus driver, Annalee Nickson.
Gaylene Voyles, Bonnie Hartman, Irene Rose, Pat Atherton, Betty Jo Hackford, Rachel Palmer, Willie Ingram, Rhiney Ficken, Liz Price, Peggy Payne, Pam and Jim Howell along with this writer and my daughter, Suzanne Tornell, visiting from Las Vegas, had no idea that the day before them would unfold with excitement and indescribable awe.
First stop was just this side of Meeker where passengers disembarking from the bus stopped to admire the pine tree that had lots of beautiful colorful blooms. Cameras were clicking before someone realized that the blooms belonged to a ground-hugging vine whose origin was well hidden from view. This Kodak moment set the tone for the remainder of the trip — that is, the laughter never stopped. We continued on to our lunch destination, Fritzlan’s. The Meeker Streaker would be meeting us there.
As we began to ascend in elevation upon entering the Flat Tops Trail, the colors began to steadily glow, golden aspens high atop the mountains, forest greens and rusty reds and all the colors in between appeared as humongous flowers planted by a very big hand. There were moments of intense silence amongst the passengers as they just stared out the windows and together gazed upon the picture God was painting right before their eyes. Herds (yes, the plural is correct) of elk — cows, calves and bulls — were viewed through Jim Howell’s and Betty Jo Hackford’s binoculars and we could even see and hear them without binoculars as the bulls (two of them) began to bugle and prance and jump from the river’s edge into the water and swim. Someone said at one point, “We all sound like little kids,” and I think indeed we all felt that “kid” excitement.
The bus moved past Buford and Sleepy Cat and shortly before Fritzlan’s, our driver turned off the paved road to the dirt road that goes past Campbell Creek Ranch where the Striegels have created a little piece of heaven that they so generously share with everyone. We admired the wood carvings along the road and pointed out to first-timers the magnificent buildings and fish pond Bud and June have spread around the ranch. We thought of them and spoke with great love and wishes for June as she continues her fearless battle — we all remember them in our prayers.
Pouring out of the bus and into the restaurant, we joined our friends from Meeker to enjoy good food and great conversation. Rangely and Meeker seniors greeted each other and mingled before, during and after lunch, meeting old friends and making new ones.
Arlene and her staff had a special daily menu posted as well as the standard menu. Lots of Fritzlan burgers and chicken breast sandwiches along with great heaps of French fries were ordered and a few eaters decided to “go all the way” and had homemade apple pie á la mode.
Leaving Fritzlan’s we turned off to Marvine Ranch and stopped to pick berries and rosehips and saw lots of little chipmunks scurrying along the path with acorn-filled cheeks as they prepare for winter. Rachel told very interesting stories about her girlhood and the early years in this part of the country. She could remember down to an eighth of a mile the distance between points of interest. She beamed as she related events from years long past.
We returned to the highway and then turned off again to drive up South Fork where the road was momentarily blocked by two big black Angus cows. Beautiful crystal clear streams and bubbling brooks flowed all around and we stopped at the end of the trail and stood on the bridge at Spring Cave Trail. Cameras continued to click throughout our trip. As we began our return to the highway, running alongside the road was “Bambi” with no mom in sight creating a bit of concern for the group. Rhiney then sang a song, the lyrics of which I cannot recall but I do remember how much fun we had as he recited from memory a rather lengthy song — and Rhiney is 98 years old — wow!
Fluffy clouds and some dark thunderclouds made a bit of a threat as the temperature dipped to low 60s but precipitation did not materialize and the sun soon shone again.
We stopped again in Meeker and had ice cream. No one was brave enough to order the posted special fast food of the day, “deep-fried dill pickles.” I would really like to know about this delicacy and next time I will order.
As we traveled once again on Highway 64, along the way we saw deer, a bobcat fully stretched out (yes, it was moving) atop a corral fence, as blue heron as we approached the reservoir.
With Rangely clearly in view, I asked each passenger what they would most remember about the day and the replies ranged from good food at Fritzlan’s, incredible fall colors, elk, elk, elk, “the view,” the bobcat, everything, the stimulating and sweet feel of genuine fellowship, the berries and rose hips to the generous and loving demeanor of our special bus driver, Annalee.
When the residents of Eagle Crest were unloading, seven deer — two young bucks, three does and two fawns — were grazing in the back pasture. Home, sweet home!
A side note here, Jeff Burkhead, the editor of the Herald Times, has asked me to write again for the paper and I am pleased to do just that. The difference in the previous column and the new “Rangely Review” is that I plan to write about happenings in every area of Rangely rather than limit it to senior citizen activities.
Having said that, today I just could not resist and had to write about our fall tour.
Newsworthy items of interest will include but not be limited to club activities, family activities, weddings, births, deaths, lottery wins, miracles, birthdays, church activities, school activities, recreation activities, rock crawling activities, all those bits and pieces that we all have and enjoy sharing with others — and, yes, there will be some Maggie opinions which should be no surprise to anyone. Please contact me with any and all news at mlong005@centurytel.net and/or 675-5149. Until next time, God bless!