Valley expedition

I wish I could say I was fully awake to write this—because today was a full and exciting day.

It will be brief for now, but perhaps I will fill in more details later…

This morning I awoke at 5 a.m. Jeff and I headed off to the Alamamosa Wildlife Refuge to catch the sunrise. It was so beautiful to see the clouds over Mount Blanca turning bright red, contrast with white frost on the the ground and steam coming off the reflective water.

After, we zig-zagged our way over to Ariana’s house to scoop her up. We headed to Blanca, where we spoke with a man named Bill. He has lived in this small town for over 30 years, and his family owns the laundry business.

Our next stop was Fort Garland, where we visited the Fort Garland Museum. It was really great to read up on some history of the Valley. Fort Garland was established in the mid-1800s to protect the San Luis Valley settlers. What was most striking to me was a section of the museum dedicated to the Civil War. A lot of Coloradans were volunteers during the Civil War—never did we learn about these folks during our history lessons back in school…

After Fort Garland, we went over to San Luis. We had lunch at a restaurant called Mrs. Rios. I had some chicken chimichangas. It was funny because the sign out front listed they had American, Mexican, Chinese, Japanse and Thai cuisine, but our menus only had Mexican and American. It wasn’t until after we finished eating that we found there was a separate menu for the Asian cuisine. We walked around and took some photos before our meeting with Huberto Maestas. Huberto specializes in high-quality bronze works.

This stop was a special treat. We got a tour of his studio and learned about the process of casting and molding. He was working on a huge Jesus piece and next weekend they’ll be pouring the bronze.

I spent a lot of time there with his 9-year-old grandson, who also creates sculptures. He is such a bright, shining child—with so much to say about his work and how he comes up with these creative images in his mind. He also knows more about dinosaurs that anyone I’ve ever met, and that is his focus for inspiration at 9.

We’re hoping to incorporate their work into seed me’s retail locations—both in stores and online. I’ll be going back next Saturday to interview them more.

One of Huberto’s most iconic pieces is his Stations of the Cross, located right in San Luis. We went there last on our way out of San Luis. It was so beautiful to walk up a winding path and see each of the stations, while climbing higher and higher up and seeing the view of town and the mountains.

We swept through San Acacio on our way to Manassa. Manassa is an old Mormon town. Here, we spoke with a woman in the park named Jill Dunn. Her son, Anthony Dunn, played for the Tennessee Titans and her grandfather settled in Manassa after traveling by covered wagon. Though she’s not a practicing Mormon at this point, she moved back to the area after living in several other places during a nursing career. People end up moving back home where they came from at some point, she said. She was wonderful to talk with and seemed to know a lot about the history of the area.

Romeo and La Jara were two more towns we passed through, on our way to Sanford. We spoke with Paul Niebel, a great and knowledgable organic gardener. He spoke to us about sustainability  He said that nothing can ever be sustainable by itself: that you need to put in outside energy and input in order for it to ever be “sustainable.” For example, if you take out green beans from your garden, you loose that source of food until you put in the seeds and plant more. The best thing to do is to get as close to sustainability as possible in whatever you’re doing, and often a community backing and support of one another helps.

Finally, we ended back at Alamosa. It was a 12-hour trip, and we barely covered 1/4 of the Valley.

Photos from my camera to come later this week!

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