Cow Creek Ranch, Pecos New Mexico. Monday September 21, 2015

Good Morning to you! This is a fish caught on the ranch by a prior guest. That is some fish! And it looks like it was caught a long time ago.

While I waited for our cook to rustle up some breakfast for me I thought I would show you some of the main lodge.

The main dining area.

In the next room there were many animal heads.

Some animal skins.

There were plenty of spaces to sit and chat. However, we were the only guests for the week. Cow Creek has since ceased to exist as a public fishing lodge. Which we thought would happen. There was so much fire damage to the hills, that it was an unattractive place to fish or ride.

My scrambled eggs and bacon came out quickly.

Which were soon followed by berry pancakes.

Steve had already gone out to meet with with his guide for his day of fishing.

While Steve was fishing I hung out at the lodge. A bird watching group from Santa Fe came to search for birds. I was invited but had no energy at this elevation.

They were off for four hours, so I think it was a good decision not to go out with them.

The lodge must have been really something back in the day. It was too bad that there had been so many fires in the area.

A beautfiul fish that Steve caught.

Oopsy!

Nice recovery!

No he did not keep him. Steve realeses his fish that he catches back to the stream. Once in awhile he does keep a few trout when he fishes back home and we eat them, but that is rare.

Here is a closer view of the pond that Steve fished.

Fish in the net.

Sometimes the ending is not so happy!

Then it was time for dinner. More of the salad from a bag with tomatoes and shredded cheese.

Chicken. It’s whats for dinner! Very dry chicken.

For dessert we had pistachio pudding and that same chocolate cake!

After dinner I followed Steve to the pond.

For more fishing.

No, it is not the same fish!

I wanted him to catch me one of the palomino trout, but they were persnickety.

Steve caught 50 fish today. It would be his last day fishing on this trip. Tomorrow we leave for Santa Fe, New Mexico!

Then it was off to bed.

What animal heads are in your living room?

What is your favorite type of dry meat?

Have you ever seen a palomino trout?

Did you that LDR means Long Distance Release?

Are you happy about not seeing anymore fish pictures? Be honest!

Cow Creek Ranch, Pecos New Mexico. Sunday September 20, 2015

After I published last night’s post Steve remarked that I did not embellish much about the road to Cow Creek. I told him that I blocked a lot of it out of my memory as it was such a bad, bad road. Steve said that the road was bed rock in many parts and that at times we couldn’t even tell where the road actually was. Yep. That is why I didn’t remember the road. It was bad!

Here I am at breakfast, reading the literature about the history of Cow Creek.

Please don’t quiz me! This is the view of the dining area from the opposite direction.

I can tell you that Cow Creek was founded in the 1800’s as a boarding ranch for wealthy English boys to learn Western ranching. Generally these would be second sons as only the first born son would inherit the estate. In the 1930’s Cow Creek was transformed into a guest ranch. It’s for sale now, if you want to buy it!

Breakfast!

I love my whipped cream on coffee!

Here is a view of Cow Creek and the valley.

After breakfast I wandered down to the horse barn for my scheduled ride.

Can you see the fish in the stream?

Here I am with one of the staff and Lanier one of the owners. This ranch had the first riding waiver that I had to sign that mentioned the possibility of death, I looked at Lanier and asked her how often that happened. I did not relish the thought of being their first casualty!

The creek at Cow Creek was very pretty.

Unfortunately there had been forest fires a few years ago and the hill sides were severely damaged.

This is some damage from a bear that was clawing on the tree!

Look how big the scars are from the bear claws!

My posture looked good, I was happy to be almost done with the ride! At one point in the ride my horse stumbled and I semi fell off it. No worries! I lived to tell the story!

Thank you for the ride Horse!

After my ride I walked back to the room where I rested for the rest of the day. The elevation really got to me and I was exhausted.

This is the living room where guests could hang out. I don’t even remember sitting here reading. I blocked out a lot about the stay at this ranch as I was so uncomfortable with everything about this place. The living room does look cozy though!

This is what one of the rooms looked like. I didn’t find any guest logs to find out if any famous people had stayed here before. Nor were there any other guests staying here to tell you any fun stories about them!

The bathroom.

This is where our meals were cooked.

This is one of the fish that Steve caught in the morning from one of the lower beats on Cow Creek.

Steve didn’t really like these lower beats as they were enhanced.

The fish was a real beauty, but Steve prefers less constructed streams. This fish was 21 inches.

So Steve and his guide moved upstream. This was one of the spots where Steve fished later in the day.

Isn’t this a beauty? He preferred the wild trout as opposed to the larger fish in the stocked ponds. This was his first Rio Grande cut throat.

Here is another area where he caught many wild trout.

I tried sitting here to read for a little bit while Steve was fishing. It got a bit too sunny for me so I went back inside.

I could see the horses gather near the gate while I read. You can see all the fire damage here.

This view is of one of the ponds that were created on Cow Creek.

The rooms were in a motel shape arrangement. They had a very bad fire that destroyed much of the landscape here. You can see how close the fire was to the lodge.

Steve came back from fishing to report that he caught 25 fish for the day, rainbow trout, brook trout, brown trout, cutbow and a rio cutt.

Then it was time for dinner. We didn’t have the cook come for lunch as she had to drive about an hour each way to get to the ranch.

We had a somewhat green salad.

Dinner was pot roast. Followed by the cake from the previous night.

There were many hummingbird feeders under the eaves.

Here is a close up of one of the Hummingbirds. Aren’t they cute?

Off to bed!

What is your favorite type of bird?

Are you a second son?

Would you rather catch a large stocked fish or a small native fish?

Is this place too dull for you? No famous people, no interesting guests with interesting background stories! No pictures of good food! I might as well just hang up my blogging skills. Instead I will persevere, you never know when something exciting will happen!

Dunton Hot Springs, Colorado. Wednesday September 16, 2015

Waffles again for breakfast. Yum Yum.

Steve went off fishing while I hung out. Pretty soon it was time to eat again!

You can tell that I wasn’t crazy about the salad!

We had salmon for lunch.

Dessert was a berry crumble, and a berry bar!

So after lunch I went to the bath house to soak in the hot spring there and then went to soak in the spring outside. It is not really a general store, they just call the main indoor spring the Dunton Store!

This is the inside of the Dunton Store. I got the picture from their website.

With a view of the mountains, it can’t get much better than this! This spring was just outside of the cabin that the couple who owned the fancy Mercedes stayed in. They had left earlier in the morning so I might have actually soaked it in for a wee bit!

This is one of the places where Steve fished today. He caught 29 fish for the day!

Dunton’s elevation is 8600 feet. I celebrated no altitude sickness with a glass of champagne before dinner. And it was a raucous dinner! Two new guests came so I did my social duties and introduced the new comers to our two newlywed couples and our 10 year anniversary couple.

Dinner was a pretty micro green salad (you almost need a microscope to find the individual pieces, although it seems a close up from my iPhone works well!)

The entree was duck breast. The vegetarian option was panned by those who partook of that option.

Dessert was a fig and chocolate cake, I think. It was interesting.

After dinner we hung out and looked at stars!

Was today’s post too short?

Do you think my friend got her AIS at 8 am?

Were you surprised that I introduced all the couples?

Dunton Hot Springs, Colorado. Tuesday September 15, 2015

Good morning!

Tuesday started with a great breakfast.

At Lunch we had a great salad with a vegetarian stir fry that was so-so.

The cookies with hazelnut filling were spectacular, so I had a happy tummy! I didn’t particularly care for the peach cream pie.

We had a dip in the bath house, and then in the outside spring until we heard thunder. Then it was time to vacate the outside hot spring!

Steve fished most of the rest of the day on the Dolores River and I did some reading. As the elevation here was a little bit higher than Brush Creek I didn’t want to exert myself too much. Our cabin was also the closest to the dining hall in case I had problems breathing. Elevation here is 8600 feet. The elevation at Brush Creek was around 7400 feet. We were gradually increasing our elevation. Our next stop will be at an elevation over 9000 feet. We shall see how I will do in a few days at that higher elevation!

Dinner was most entertaining. (Not because of the food, but the people we met!) We started off with a great garden salad.

Our entree was Trout en papillote, chanterelles, wild leeks, and pine nuts. Served with manoomin roasted carrots and pine cone syrup. The twist was that the trout was baked in a corn husk! What a clever twist on the traditional paper papillotte.

I was not crazy for the rustic apple tart served for dessert. No chocolate!

So today’s crazy story is that there were two guests from Denver who owned many Mercedes-Benz cars. They were having a photo essay done on them for Mercedes- Benz magazine. The couple are avid MB classic car collectors. They own seven cars. ( I think they own three homes and are selling one-but I am digressing here, so back to the story!) One of the cars that they own is a green 1956 300 SL Gull-wing.

The doors open up just like the wings of a gull! The wife even had matching luggage! (Which I didn’t see, but I don’t think she would lie about that! )They stayed for a few days in Telluride and had pictures taken of them in the car tooling around. As the roads to Dunton were too bad the car was kept in an air plane hanger in Telluride so it wouldn’t get dusty until the couple was done with the photo shoot in Dunton!

They traveled with a young photographer. (I wasn’t sure at first what was going on, they appeared to be a threesome, but I couldn’t figure out who was with whom!) The couple were to be photographed in Dunton relaxing in the hot springs and fishing. I know not if they caught any fish! At meal time, the photographer, who always had his eyes looking out the window, would exclaim “The light, the light!” The couple would then dash out of the dining hall for pictures!

They were to leave at AIS 8 a.m. the next morning. This was a new expression to me, and it is something that Steve and I now use. AIS means Ass In Seat (of the car you are going to be driving in!). Now this lady spent a lot of time on hair and makeup, so I am sure that she required a lot of lead time to be AIS at 8! They were going to drive to Gateway Canyons (where I had wanted to stay near Grand Junction-but it was too far out of the way for us) for a continuation of their photo shoot. The photographer wanted to have a helicopter in the photo shoot but the management at Gateway nixed that idea! After that they were going to go to Aspen for more pictures. I was not quite sure how the car was going to get to Gateway, were they going to have someone else meet them or would they have to go back to Telluride and pick up the car?

Now for my curious readers, the car was worth $1.75 to 2 million dollars! I looked it up. There are certain questions that even I don’t ask! I did ask their life story, and here it is. The gentleman started out as an enlisted guy in the Army as a dog handler. After that he started an investment counseling business. Forty years later he owns many homes and vintage automobiles. His wife, who happens to be the original wife(!) was dripping in diamonds. Now ordinarily you always think that someone else’s diamonds are too big, but these were not. As far as I am concerned you can never have too many or diamonds that are too big! The couple were the most down to earth people that you could meet! Only in America, can you go from dog handler to vintage Mercedes-Benz owner!

Steve caught nine fish yesterday including three 17 inch trout! Today Steve caught 8 fish and an 18 inch trout!

Do you own a Mercedes-Benz?

Did you ever have a photo spread done on you or your significant other?

Are you dripping in diamonds?

Off to Dunton Hot Springs, Colorado. Monday September 14, 2015

No breakfast pictures today! Not when there is interesting scenery to see!

We hit the road for our five hour drive to out next Excellent Adventure. Seeing wild mustangs and dinosaur bones didn’t really count as an adventure. Just a side trip!

You can just bet that Steve was itching to fish here! However, there was no time to stop today, as we were on our way to Dunton Hot Springs. Steve was going to be able to get his Colorado fish at Dunton. At least we hoped he would!

\We drove through the San Juan Mountains. The highest elevation was 10,100 feet. The Aspens had just started to turn golden.

You can see evidence of a rock slide here.

This is part of Telluride ski area.

This business in Rico, Colorado had seen better days. After 30 minutes of driving on a dirt road we saw a car with flashing lights. What was ahead?

A cowboy and his cattle.

After an hour on a dirt road we came to the gate that would separate Dunton Hot Springs Resort from the rest of the world! Steve is talking to staff asking them to open the gate for us. This was a former mining town from 1885 that turned into a ghost town. In 1994 it was bought and then restored by the Christopher Henkel, a German born London based investor. If you use Persil laundry detergent you keep his family and this place going! The place looks like a dump on the outside, but it is decorated in a five star way! Our cabin is the little one to the right of the main building. The main building is also where the dining area is located.

This building is where the main hot spring is located.There are several springs here. One of the springs is located in a cabin that you can stay at. That would not be our cabin.You can see the spa in the bath house being refilled. There had been a wedding the previous weekend and all the spas were drained, cleaned and then refilled. The spring looks yucky , that is because of all the minerals in the water. This is one of the outside springs behind one of the cabins.

This was another hot spring, you had to climb down stairs to get in.

Here is more of our tour of the town. The library with the bear skin rug that I tripped on. At least I didn’t go boom!

The library’s bottle of whisky. What proper library doesn’t have a bottle of whisky in it? Here is the waterfall. What proper lodge doesn’t have a waterfall?

Our African themed room. The shower was in a little closet on the right of the door.

The toilet and sink were to the left of the door. The Cabin was tiny!Lunch was great.

Lentil soup.

Then fish.

Dessert was brownies and a peppery blond brownie.

We got to meet the bride and groom from the past weekend’s wedding. (Not the couple in the picture above.) She was in a television series that was being filmed in Atlanta (Not the Housewives!) The groom was in the band of a very famous singer. No names for you!

Of course it was time for Steve to gear up and test the waters!

Here is a picture of Steve catching a fish on the West Branch of the Dolores River. Unfortunately I can’t figure out how to post a copy of an old video for you. This was just behind our cabin!

Did you not believe me? Of course he caught a fish!

Lucky, lucky you! I figured out how to insert videos again!

Here are some pictures of the prep work for dinner. Gorgeous potatoes for roasting.

Also many different colored carrots.

We started with a beautiful grilled escarole salad with fruit to start our dinner.

Followed by grilled lamb chops. Our wine was from Sutcliffe Vineyards. Sutcliffe is located in Cortez, Colorado; the nearest large town .I think there was some kind of relationship between Sutcliffe and Dunton.

Our delicious dessert. Sweet Potato Pie with chocolate chile sauce and maple whipped cream.

Would you come here on your honeymoon?

Where did you go on your honeymoon?

Bonus question: Have you ever had sex in a hot spring? Scratch that, I don’t want to know!

Brush Creek Ranch, Saratoga Wyoming. Saturday September 12, 2015

I’m back! Did you miss me? I am continuing our road trip west.

Today would be our last day at Brush Creek Ranch. As usual I had breakfast by myself. Steve would be off fishing. I would do some riding. Buffets always yield unattractive plating!

Here is Steve’s guide checking out the water. You can tell that he is the guide as he has the net. Also if the guide were taking the picture he would either have the sport centered in the picture or on the left of the frame looking toward the river. I should stop complaining, and just be thankful that I have a picture of the beautiful stream!

While Steve fished I rode. I bought two shirts and one pair of jeans to wear while I rode. This shirt is a white buffalo plaid. Buffalo plaids are usually red and black. A new fun fact for you!

Below us you see the Artist Colony and some of the creek side cabins. We stayed in one of the Creekside cabins on one of our stays. Brush Creek invites artists (musicians, composers, photographers, painters) to stay for the season and create.

Now would be a great time to talk about the couple from last night, S and R. They live in the Denver area. She had an absolutely magic voice. Very cultured, with a very interesting accent. While we were waiting to start our ride I told her to keep her eyes out for one of the other guests as she had a three carat diamond. I was very impressed with the ring. I love diamonds. Even larger diamonds on someone else’s hand. There is a joke that a diamond can only be too big if it is on some else’s hand!

She smiled and told me that the ring was nice, but that the ring from her first husband was a 6 carat flawless stone. At that, I shut up but of course the wheels in my head started to spin. How would I be able so get the background story out of her? What was the backstory? Why would she dump him? Did he cheat on her? Did she find out he liked to play with the members of the other team? Was he dead?

I pondered this all afternoon on my next ride. I did lots of pondering as you can imagine!

Here is a beautiful fish from Steve’s fishing.

This is a rainbow trout. I think that it is a close up of the same fish, but who knows? Only Steve and his guide know! Steve caught 46 fish that day!

On my afternoon ride I found this beautiful deer shed. I am happy that we were going to drive back home as I don’t think that I would have been able to fit it in my suitcase!

Steve and I met back for dinner. This was my entree. It looks like it was polenta with elk tenderloin. It could be something else entirely also!

Dessert was a berry crumble.

So we met my new friends from my ride at the saloon before dinner. I asked them to join us for dinner. I have scrambled their faces to preserve their privacy. We met a new couple also. The couple at the far end of the table run a travel agency that specializes in hunting trips. Brush Creek has much to offer for those that like to shoot and hunt. The ranch used to have bison that were available to hunt , but the bison kept escaping and got in the neighbor’s fields. The neighbors were not very happy at that as the fences were ruined and the cattle were bothered. Bothered cattle do not bring happy cattle prices. So that very pricey hunting option had to be scrapped. The couple on the right, S are the couple that we met last night and I went on the ride with today. S is the owner of the six carat diamond.

Now for the tale of S and R. (Which I found out about during cocktail hour at the saloon, this was not something that was discussed at dinner. Who discusses their ex-husband during dinner?) R, the husband, was a senior Vice President for a very large mining, gas and oil development company. They live in the Denver area. He has traveled all around the world managing projects. S was studying to get her degree in social work. She was not in her twenties so this must have been a second career for her.

Now for the story. You will notice that I kind of jump right into my questions. That’s me! Some might think I am brusque, but I prefer to call it an efficient strategy.

“So how did you get a 6 carat flawless engagement ring? Was it a family heirloom?”

“My first husband was a Saudi Prince.”

“Oh.”

Yes, even I can be rendered speechless.

No, I did not ask if she was wife number 1, 2, or 3. Remember I do not ask every question I might want to know the answer to! Nor did I ask which Saudi Prince she had been married to. There happen to be 15,000!

Somehow the answers to some of my divorce questions came out (I did not ask what caused the divorce! It appears that not all of the Arab sheikh style of Harlequin romances have a happy ending in real life!) S lived in Switzerland for two years while the divorce was finalized. That is where her accent came from. It was a combination of upper crust English and a European component. I don’t know why it took two years, but the divorce did. As someone who has been happily married for over 40 years I don’t know nothing about divorces!

S kept all of the jewelry, and keeps it in the vault. She takes it out when she goes to black tie events. As the jewels are not from her current husband she is uncomfortable wearing them on her normal activities. I remarked that S might have been married to a prince, but now she is married to the Real Prince in her life! Isn’t that a romantic phrase? Perhaps I should write romance novels afterall!

Thus endeth our stay at Brush Creek Ranch. Remember how I mentioned previously that I stay in touch with some of the people we meet on our trips? On a trip years later, Steve and I did meet up with R and S!

Do you have any buffalo plaid shirts in your house?

Are you married to a Saudi Prince?

Instead of a third question I thought I would show you what a six carat diamond looks like! This was not her ring, I found it on the internet. You might be wondering what the price point for a 6 carat, D colored internally flawless diamond is…about $550,000. Now I don’t know if her diamond was internally flawless or not. That is still some hunk of change for a ring.

Brush Creek Ranch, Saratoga Wyoming. Wednesday September 9, 2015

More from our 6500 cross country road trip in 2015. Enjoy!

Breakfast with a view. The main lodge at the ranch has music going through their sound system every morning. This is my favorite set!

Breakfast. A little of this, and a little of that.

Breakfast is served on the patio outside. The heat lamps are nice in case it gets cold.

I went for fishing lessons with Trey. Steve had fished several times with Trey before and found him to be a great guide. Steve and I agreed that it would be good that instead of his trying to teach me someone else should try to help me with my casting. After I got the hang of it Trey went to another part of the pond to try and catch some fish himself. After noticing that he was getting no action whatsoever I told him that we should go back to the lodge. I figured that if he was not catching anything, then surely I would not also! Nil for the morning. I am hoping that shooting will be easier. Just aim at the target and fire!

Back at the lodge I had lunch by myself.

Meanwhile Steve was out with his guide. He caught one beautiful fish.

He had lunch here.

There are tee-pees for kids to play in when there are group dinners.

It is a pretty spot to visit.

Here is another large fish that he caught after lunch. Steve ended up catching 18 fish for the day. The two largest fish were 17 inches.

After lunch I went riding.

Later we had cocktails at Falcon Peak. This duo plays at many Brush Creek evenings. They are married and have great voices. Singing together a long time they harmonize well.

Don’t we make a cute couple? The answer is “Yes!”

There were lots of shrimp and crab legs to eat.

A sundown picture.

This one is a little better.

Back at the lodge we had a lovely dinner. Dinner included fried polenta and smoked prime rib. It was served buffet style.

The good-watermelon, the bad-fried bananas, with caramel sauce and whipped cream which looked a little bit ugly.

I scraped my plate clean.

Then it was to the campfire for some s’mores.

If I worked outside the house I could have this picture on my desk!

Perhaps Steve would want this picture on his desk.

Did you recognize the song in the video?

How do you like shrimp, boiled or fried?

Do you think my breasts look deformed?

Brush Creek Ranch, Saratoga Wyoming. Tuesday September 8, 2015

Steve went down to breakfast and it seemed that my email was received after all! Everything was “How are you Steve? I have your fishing all set up!”

Steve had originally arranged all his fishing before we had arrived at Brush Creek. When we were at the activities barn yesterday all his requests were missing, and we were not sure that he was going to be able to fish the water that he had wanted to fish. I had mentioned this in the email yesterday to the VP also, complaining that Steve was having problems with scheduling the week’s fishing. Well, today it was all a different story! The fishing schedule was all rearranged, and Steve was going to be able to fish when and where he wanted to.

In fact, although we were not going to be moved into a cabin, a king size bed was going to be moved across the hall and we would be moved there and have quiet Mountain views. I don’t often complain, Steve and I have a tendency to vote with our feet. However in this case, I was pretty riled up and did complain. I thought that if we were moved across the hall I would be happier.

If I don’t see that an accommodation can be made, I decide to vote with my feet and also warn others about the type of service that they might get. I don’t feel that I owe any business my review. I only let businesses that I like hear about how they might make changes. I think the perfect job for me would be a paid luxury hotel consultant who is a secret stayer. Instead I am a luxury hotel consultant who pays to stay at hotels and gives the hotels my free advice!

This is one of the reasons we keep coming back. A 20 inch brown on the Encampment.

This is Cheyenne the horse that I rode today. There is so much to remember! Shoulders back, chest open, seat firm, hold reins like an ice cream cone, let the horse know who is boss, don’t let him eat grass, lean forward going up hills, lean back going down hills, when you post go up and down faster. If you are hitting the saddle hard it is because you are too slow for the beat, look ahead, not down, sit up like a girl, not slumping like a guy-they are protecting their equipment! Too much too remember but having fun anyway.

This was where I hung out before lunch. Can you believe I got a little sun burn? It’s the high elevation and poorly applied sunscreen!

Dessert from lunch today. I forgot to take pictures of the buffet. Oh well.

Steve came back from fishing on the Encampment to spend lunch with me. He caught three rainbow trout and a 20 inch brown trout. A good morning for him.

After lunch he spent the rest of the afternoon on Brush Creek fishing. He caught 16 brown trout ranging from seven to sixteen inches. All in all a good day.

Once again, I forgot to take dinner pictures.

Dessert. Bread pudding with coffee ice cream and some other stuff. I showed restraint.

Was today’s post too short?

Do you like to ride?

Do you ride Western or English? Are there more differences than shinier boots when you ride English?

Spearfish South Dakota to Sheridan Wyoming. Saturday 6, September 2015

Why do I have a picture of a Ford Mustang car as my first picture? Well, there was a car rally this weekend in Sturgis, South Dakota. This is from the parking lot of our hotel. The guy driving the red Mustang wasn’t really trying to make much noise. I wish I would have gotten his real vroom vroom sound. Steve wouldn’t have been. It was bad enough I was questioning theses strangers at 7:30 in the morning! Sturgis is famous for their annual motorcycle rally’s. Hundreds of thousands of people attend.

Here is a little of a vroom vroom. I asked the driver what they did at the Mustang Rally. It is basically a bunch of people showing off their cars and all the modifications that they do to the cars to make loud noises!

Due to the Labor Day holiday we have problems finding someplace to eat. After trying two recommended breakfast places from Trip Advisor that only served coffee and granola we settled on a Perkin’s. I warned Steve about his future heart attack with his breakfast. Mine was bad enough with the fried egg and sausage.

Steve had the scrambled eggs, sausage hash browns and gravy covered biscuit!

After advice from my cousin Larry who lives in the Denver area we decided that we might have time after all to explore Spearfish Canyon on our way to Devil’s Tower. We got Steve his fishing license in less than five minutes at the Minit Man gas station. We passed a pretty waterfall and then Steven picked a spot to try. Success! Steve got his first trout in South Dakota. No pictures though, you will just have to believe him!

Then it was on to Devil’s Tower Wyoming. Remember Close Encounters of the Third Kind? People actually climb Devil’s Tower. Over 100,000 people have climbed DT and there have been only five fatalities. I think that is because they only let people climb it who are well vetted.

Look how buff this couple is!

We didn’t climb DT of course, we just strolled around the base!

If you zoom in on this picture you can see some of the people climbing!

Then it was onto Sheridan Wyoming. We wanted to see the DaVinci horse sculpture that our friend G was involved with.

Steve is going to get in trouble for touching the horse’s hoof.

But since M, G’s wife only reads my current blog post and totally skips the old posts G will never know!

Here is K , who was the impetus for the sculpture garden in Sheridan.

We had dinner with K and his wife M. They had just bought a new house and we had dinner there. They had lots of light switches along with lots of lights and I had fun helping M figure out what switch went with what light fixture!

Would you have been as accommodating as I was and let Steve try to catch a fish in South Dakota?

Can you hear the music from Close Encounters in your head now?

Do you read all my blog posts both old and new?

Copal Tree Lodge, Punta Gorda Belize. Wednesday January 8, 2020

Good morning! Today you and I will learn all about making chocolate!

Let’s have some watermelon juice first!

Pancakes with chocolate, banana and toasted coconut! That is butter and not scrambled eggs on top of the pancakes!

This couple was going to go on a zip line. She was having an alcoholic drink while we waited for the Land Rover to arrive! Like me, she does not like heights. She was very much afraid to go on the zip line, but she told her partner that she would do it!

I was dropped off at the chocolate building where I met my guide for the cocoa growing steps. I needed no alcohol to learn about making chocolate!

First we see the flowers and the beginning of the cocoa pod on the cocoa tree.

The pod continues to grow.

Eventually the pod reaches a stage where it is ready to be picked.

The full grown pod is quite large.

What’s the inside of a cocoa pod like? The cocoa pod is split open to show us.

The cocoa beans have a very slimy coating. The beans and the slimy coating will ferment during the cocoa making process and then the beans are put on racks to dry in a shed.

I put one of the seeds in my mouth, the bean was quite sweet. I am not dead yet, so you can tell that it is safe to eat! It was gooey though!

These big leaves cover the cocoa pods in the drying sheds.

I also learned about grafting. Grafting is done because sometimes you have a very flavorful bean, but the tree itself is subject to disease. By grafting you put the desirable plant on a root stock that is stronger and more resistant to disease and insects.

A branch from a tree that you want to use for the growth of beans is taken from the mother tree. The leaves are then snipped off.

A small piece is then cut off where the bud was and then inserted into tree that is very hearty. This heartier tree is the root stock.

The bud is then wrapped to prevent harm to the plant.

An alternate method is to use a v like graft.

This is a more successful method.

That is all the lessons about cocoa tree growing.

Now for a pretty picture. I am sure that many weddings are held here!

I think, but I am not sure but these might be peppercorns!

This is part of a turmeric root. You can see it growing in the soil.

I was told that you should take this seed also when you take your turmeric for better healing. Of course I have no clue what plant it was from!

All I remember was that it was red!

Here are the cocoa beans that have gone though the fermenting and drying process. Maynard will be showing us the rest of the chocolate making process. Maynard will put cocoa beans into a large roaster where the beans will be roasted for a short while.

This is Maynard. See Maynard roast beans.

Here are some of the beans before they are placed in the grinder.

The roasted beans ready to go into the grinder.

The roasted cocoa beans are placed into the grinder and the heavier cocoa falls into the bin. I will help by evenly scraping the cocoa as it comes out. But you won’t see that part!

A vacuum sucks out the light ground shells from the heavier cocoa grounds through the green tubes.

The finished cocoa nibs, fresh out of the grinder.

We have moved in to an air conditioned room for this part of the process. This makes me very happy as the heat and humidity is very bothersome to me.

Maynard with the maniacal mad doctor expression is telling me that now I will make chocolate! There are already some of the ground cocoa nibs in the machine. The other ingredients are sugar and cocoa butter.

On the white board is the mathematics of chocolate making. Just like wine making and whisky, a percentage is lost as the “Angel’s share”.

All the ground cocoa is in the grinder.

Here I am scraping the chocolate off the grinding wheels. At this point I still hadn’t splattered chocolate all over me! The best is yet to come!

I am seriously concentrating!

Hmm. No hairnet. That wouldn’t pass muster with the USDA!

Next ingredient is white sugar.

The white sugar is added to the mixture slowly in batches.

Here are samples of chocolate that was made by other guests. Can you believe that I only ate two?

The final step was the addition of cocoa butter.

I never really understood where the cocoa butter came from. The cocoa beans had been roasted and then ground. Then I put them into the mixer to be ground further into a liquid and then the sugar was added.So where does cocoa butter come from? I forgot to ask.

Everything was all mixed together and my chocolate was ready to be tempered.

My chocolate was added to chocolate that had already been warmed.

Maynard poured the chocolate onto the counter.

The chocolate was spread over the table into a thick sheet.

Maynard scraped the chocolate over the granite table.