Driving into our high mountain plateau, one is first struck by the monoliths. Granite outcroppings dot the valleys and canyons, erupting like fountains across the landscape. They command our attention and their glorious majesty never ends, no matter how long we live with them.
Much more than the distant continental divide, we navigate by them, we monitor the weather with their backdrop, we orient the seasons with their snow cover. Sunrise and sunset on them tell us what time of day it is, how many hours of daylight we have left for our outdoor living. Alpineglow nourishes us with beauty, even when we're not paying particular attention.
What exactly are they? How old are they? What can they tell us about our fleeting time on this planet?
Jim Erdman was a plant biologist who lived just off Gate 10 for a while in the early 2010's. He left behind a concise, brief yet surprisingly thorough non-copyrighted publication he called A Brief Natural History of Glacier View Meadows. Our ever-resourceful Red Feather Lakes Community Library has a copy of his three-ring notebook, with typewritten pages inserted in plastic liner pages. It's a precious jewel of information.
Fittingly, Jim starts with what he calls Our stunning Granitic landscape--and nice Gneiss. Basing his work on the USGS Big Narrows Topographic Quadrangle, he gives a good overview of the layout of our area and the more prominent peaks we live with. Just outside my window--and perhaps the most visible orientation point for residents and nearby travelers along Highway 74E--is Haystack Butte, at elevation 7,789 ft. That's 289 feet above where I'm sitting as I write.
Diving in a bit deeper, from his 30-year career with the US Geological Survey Office in Denver he knew of the existence of a precise geological map, and with the assistance of one of his colleagues provided a non-technical translation of what it all says.
Here's my attempt at making sense of even that translation.
Underlying our area is a vast structure that cooled and solidified underground (unlike lava flows, for example) called the Log Cabin Batholith. The name comes from "an historical feature" from just west of the Pot Belly Restaurant (Manhattan Rd at 74E) down to Rustic, along the Cache La Poudre River.
Buried in that batholith and bubbling up the surface at irregular intervals are two forms of granite from the Precambrian Era (1.4 billion years ago). Earth layers formed in this era were formed as vast basins with undersea sediments, organic and non-organic, which were buried and transformed by heat and pressure into solid stone. Injected into this basin were depositions of material formed by cooling earthen materials.
Most of these depositions prominent in our area are the Silver Plume (coarse grained) granite, with some fine- to medium-grained granite. Because these are not from lava flows or other externally-cooled sources, they are more ancient and closer to bedrock.
With photographs he took to illustrate, Jim writes of a tour he took of GVM to locate other types of rock. On a roadcut on Iron Mountain Drive, he shows a layer of 1.7 billion year old sedimentary schist., with its formerly molten Silver Plume granite above it. He shows and explains a granitic dike, pink colored. And a granitic gneiss.
My takeaway, through all the details? We live in an area close to the origins of the planet earth, left to interact with the forces of weather and atmosphere, reminding us of the age of the world we momentarily are a part of.
Helps me keep perspective in times I wonder what we're doing to the planet and each other.
If you're interested in the details, check out Dr Erdman's little notebook at our fine local library--the only place you'll find it.
And go on a bit of a field trip.
Thursday, March 26, 2020
|Along Laramie River Road.|
Places, Then and Now, is the organizing blog for the website for the Colorado Institute of Historical Geography.
I've been keeping online journals for years, according to my evolving interests, readings, research. Over time the number of these journals/blogs has grown. As I reflect back on all of them, I come to see the overlap between them.
Though they grew separately, the formatting for them was obviously created by the same mindset, the same esthetic. Color schemes were harmonious amongst them; font styles were similar or identical. Use of imagery was consistent, language was clearly written by the same person.
Recognizing the similarities and the overlap in content, now in May of 2020 I am launching into an process of integration. Blogger technology invites it. My continuing interest in simplification as a life-organizing principle nourishes it. Now it's time to move forward.
As a first step, I'm importing the contents of each of the pre-existing blogs into Places, Then and Now. I'll create a searchable label for each imported entries, to continue for a while distinguishing what was written earlier and independently.
I wonder how much I will find myself editing the contents of various earlier entries, to reflect my present view of the world and my goals for this single version. My running blog, for instance, reflected my younger age; as I have mellowed with age, it has evolved into a walking blog. The goals are the same, the mindset is the same, but my choice of activity is different. Will I find it interesting or helpful to blog about that shift even more than I have?
Monday, January 27, 2020
|One of two fuel sources in our part of the world.|
Life in the country is different from life in the city.
Those of us who live in mountain and rural areas have learned through the years that new people moving to our area sort themselves into two groups, over the first couple of years. We watch this sorting out of the corner of our eyes.
Impose or adapt.
Some folks struggle to impose their wishes and values on their new community; others open themselves up to the adaptations that are required to thrive here, patiently waiting to see how their personal lifestyles can slowly find a place for expression.
|Internet: 20gb/mo for $89. One streamed video=1gb.|
"Why do you move here for what we have," oldtimers ask, "and then immediately try to change it into what you left behind?"
With Colorado's surge in population growth, economic and quality of life issues are gaining new prominence More people are seeking remote places to live and raise their children. It's not a decision lightly made.
Mountain living is more than a change in scenery. It's a profoundly different way of considering yourself in relation to the world. For people who have lived in cities or even small towns most of their lives, there are deep ways of thinking that need to shift and grow. The benefits of slow living come to those who allow them in.
A familiar matter.
|We're still learning the names of them all.|
My experience working in a planning department tells me that this paper was not produced just out of goodwill. There were enough issues arising for new mountain/rural residents that there was a need to be explicit about a few things. Here's from the introduction.
The men and women who came to this part of the country during the westward expansion of the United States were bound by an unwritten code of conduct.Published in 2008--that's twelve years ago--the paper covers Access, Utility Services, The Property, Mother Nature, and Agriculture.
The values of integrity and self-reliance guided their decisions, actions and interactions.
In keeping with that spirit, we offer this information to help citizens of Larimer County who wish to follow in the footsteps of those rugged individualists by living outside city limits.
Understanding the ground rules.
It strikes me as a good background for adjusting our expectations for living in this part of the world. Until a new resident is willing and able to confront these realities, life in the mountains will be no end of frustrations and disappointments.
It's as good a statement as I've seen, in enough detail, that its underlying truths bear pondering.
Wednesday, January 22, 2020
Early in our family life we were blessed to have wise elders who showed us by example the value of simple living--what we now know as the Leave No Trace ethic. Our commitment to that view of ourselves in the world has only deepened, through 50+ years now of marriage, children, grandchildren. It's a work in process--there's always more we can do to shrink our footprint on this beautiful earth. And we've discovered the deep joys of leaving the world a better place for having been here. Planting trees, for instance.
When I try to write about the beauty of this part of Larimer County I'm unable to find words that aren't trite cliches. It all comes out sounding like a Hallmark greeting card. If you're reading this, you probably know what I'm saying. So there's this: we fell in love with it. Maybe this blog is a love letter.
A little research showed us the rich and fascinating history of this little corner. And some time spent with the founding documents of Glacier View Meadows convinced me (Claudia's not so keen on studying Master Covenants) that we could find a true home here, a place dedicated to
...maintain[ing] a style and nature of building design that is architecturally harmonious with the physical character of the area, including quality of workmanship, type of materials and harmony of external design.We're pretty comfortable in rural and mountain living, and this ethic spoke directly to our core values. But choosing to live that way ourselves is different than being told we have to comply with someone else's definition of exactly what that means
We'd never lived in an HOA, and had heard plenty of horror stories. Is this a place run by a bunch of HOA nazis? In the end of our research we decided that the pluses of settling here far outweighed the risks of been stuck in a toxic community. The weekend of the April 2017 36" snowstorm, we moved to Gate 9.
Our apprehensions have proven to have been totally unnecessary. We love this community. We truly appreciate what we've come to realize as the importance and value in living in a well-managed homeowner's association.
It has required some adjustment from us in learning to navigate such a local government. We learned early on that deep in the DNA of Glacier View Meadows is a profound respect for the nature of people who choose to call this home: residents who prefer self-sufficiency, but are aware of the need for neighborliness and commonly agreed upon rules. In every way, we have seen and experienced a light and respectful hand in the development and administration of regulations. We've found responsive, helpful, and generous support when we've had questions or concerns. And our participation in the organization has been encouraged and welcomed.
Why this blog.
With this part of Colorado showing no sign of losing its appeal for new residents, we look forward to new neighbors who share with us the importance of living in harmony with the land. In this spirit, I write this blog, a journal of my discoveries.
I'd hope that the ideas here might provide a few thoughts and inspirations for you about what this part of the world is. Maybe what I share here will be one of the places you turn to when you're wondering how to make Glacier View Meadows more fully your home.
We continue learning about the place and getting to know the people. Writing about it is one way I have of figuring things out for myself. I look forward to hearing from you in the comments, so you can be part of my education.
I'm a man of the American West. I spent my early life in the San Francisco bay area, my university years in Utah. After raising a family in the Nebraska prairieland, I've found my home in the mountains of Colorado.
Want to know more about me?
If you google my name, you may find some references to my work with communities and with historical geography. You may even stumble across some of the other online writing I do.
Want to know more? Read some random pages of the blog here. Check out the Facebook page I administer, which I consider a sister to this blog. Or drop me a line, at moneill[dot]gvm[at]msn[dot]com. I love to share a good cup of coffee.
The fine print.
Truth in Advertising: I feel strongly enough about some of these ideas that I volunteer my time and skills, such as they are, with the HOA. I serve these days as chair of the Architectural Review Committee, which reports to the Road & Recreation Board of Directors. With that in mind, here's a specific disclaimer.
A brief disclaimer.Michael.
This blog, like the Facebook page, is a personal project. These are expressions of my way of being in community.
I consider myself fortunate to live in this place in the mountains, but I'm not promoting it and am not reluctant to admit its human frailties. I provide contact information for the HOA, but the work on these sites is not formally associated in any way with the Homeowners Association. I speak for myself.
I won't "monetize" what I'm doing here, and don't do it for any particular benefit for me or my family. Sooner or later, I expect it will have served its purposes and will become some sort of historical reference point. I'm not here forever.
|Glacier View Meadows HOA Offices.|
We move here because we enjoy the slow pace of life and the opportunities for silence. The mountains have stories to tell, The trees whisper to us in the breeze, and sometimes holler at us in the wind. We know how to listen for the wisdom of the world.
Learning about the human community is a different challenge. Our remoteness comes with a price for developing friendships, support groups, resources. Transportation and communication both require more intention, effort, time--as well as expense.
|Granite from deep in the earth.|
We soon discover all we've taken for granted in living in cities or larger towns. If we want to make contact, we have to initiate it ourselves. The community we grow is limited only by our imaginations, our energy, our own investments.
In it all, our lives are shaped by the wild things we live with, by the skies we live under, by the land we live in.
|Nesting for the redwing blackbirds.|
We know this kind of life is not for everyone. Those of us who choose to stay here have our resilience tested and toughened.
We wouldn't have it any other way.
Tuesday, January 21, 2020
|Hook and Moore Glade|
Pass historic Ted's Place at the intersection where Colorado Highway 14 turns toward Poudre Canyon and Walden.
Around the bend you enter the Glade, which will one day in the foreseeable future be under 280 feet of water, 170,000 acre-feet. Population growth is stalking us.
Following 287 north, you arrive at the Forks, the original stage-stop turnoff for the first road connecting the Front Range with North Park, across Cameron Pass and the continental divide.
Red Feather Lakes Road. Larimer County Rd 74E.
A little over ten miles west you, crest McNey Hill and catch a first view of the Divide. And its glaciers.
|The Mummy Range runs roughly east to west, along the northern edge of Rocky Mountain National Park.|
|The signature gatepost and signage of Glacier View Meadows.|
Drop down the hill and arrive at Gate 1, Glacier View Meadows.
There are 11 more gates to come.
Driving into our high mountain plateau, one is first struck by the monoliths. Granite outcroppings dot the valleys and canyons, erupting lik...