Sombrero Ranch in Estes Park

This fall we did the breakfast ride at Sombrero Ranch in Estes Park Colorado. It involves about an hour of riding through the mountains to an outdoor dining area, breakfast, and about an hour ride back. The cost was $65 per person.

We arrived around 7 for the 7:30 ride. We filled out the releases and paperwork which included rating your riding ability as poor, fair, or good. I’m not sure if that determines what type of horse you get or whether it just lets the staff know who may be a bit overconfident in their riding skills. The two other members of our group decided that since they had never fallen off a horse, they should be rated fair. It wasn’t clear if they thought having taken a fall would push them up to a “good” or down to a “poor.”  Everyone was offered helmets, and kids under 12 were required to wear them. We were on the horses they had selected for us by 7:20.

Our guide Zora had finished her degree in animal science that spring and was spending her summer as a “wrangler” as a “bucket list” job. She led us up the mountain. Coming from Kansas, it was a bit different riding horses on slick rocks, but they did well and you could tell they had been on the path hundreds of times.  The kids were directly behind Zora with Haley and I behind them and the other two members of our group behind us.

We wound our way up the mountain on private land that offered an incredible view of Estes Park. The air was cool, but not uncomfortable as the horses plodded along following Zora and her horse Yellow. There was a bit of biting and kicking between Haley’s horse and my horse, Murphy, but not anything that made it feel unsafe or uncomfortable. Later when tied up together the two horses were acting like best friends.

At the breakfast area, a worker was making pancakes, eggs, and sausage. He took a coffee pot and swung it in a large circle three or four times to get the coffee grounds into the bottom of the pot. They also had orange juice available. I spotted the fattest chipmunk I’ve ever seen peeking out from behind the structure that sheltered the cooking area. The cook heard me comment on his size and said, “Oh that is Oscar. I’m extremely proud of how big he is. He should be good for 2 or 3 winters even if he never eats again.” The extremely overweight Oscar seemed like he thought he was in heaven as he watched us from behind one of the building supports.

The breakfast area had a large water tank with hand sanitizer and towels to wash your hands as well as a port-a-potty and an old outhouse. There were enough tables to hold quite a large group, but the only people there were our group and another group of 3 people and their guide that arrived a few minutes after we did.

After finishing breakfast, we mounted back up on the horses and began the trek back to where we had started. The ride back was a different path, and beautiful though sometimes we were riding fairly close to a housing development as we headed back toward the town. 

After arriving back at the base we dismounted, talked to Zora for a few minutes and then headed back to our truck. Everyone enjoyed the ride and I think everyone would have voted to do it again the next day.

2017 Eclipse

As the 2017 eclipse approached we were debating whether it was worth driving North to get directly in the path of it. Haley and I both remembered a partial eclipse from when we were kids and it had been a pretty big let down. The day before the eclipse, we decided to head to Hebron, Nebraska based on the weather. 

The day of the eclipse we further refined our position heading to Davenport, Nebraska to find a break in the light clouds. We weren’t disappointed. The difference between an 80% eclipse and a full eclipse is significant. When it finally got to 100% it was a very weird experience. It felt like dawn and dusk at the same time but evenly lit in all directions.

It was well worth the effort to go see it. We were in a pretty rural area with very few other people around. I think it might have been more interesting to watch it in a large group, but that would have meant dealing with a lot more traffic that we were specifically trying to avoid.

The next full eclipse in the US is going to be in April of 2024 traveling on a path from Texas up through Maine. I’d highly recommend trying to get directly in its path if you can.

New Vocabulary Word

Our four year old continues to learn the meanings of words–often by trying them out.

Katy: “I told the sunday school teacher I was allergic to strawberries.”
Haley: “Why? ”
Katy: “Because I really like strawberries!”
Mark: “Being allergic to something means you can’t eat them.”
Katy: <long pause> “Oh…..”

Branson with the grandchildren

We recently spent a week in Branson with three of our children and spouses as well as five of our grandchildren.  I bought a styrofoam and balsa wood airplane with a propeller so I could fly it with the kids.  We had fun in the yard and it flew fairly well without great damage.

Assembling the rubber band plane

Later, I bought a similar plane without a propeller (glider version) which we intended to launch from the observation deck of the 50 ft tall lighthouse attached to the clubhouse of the complex in which we were staying.  The last day we were there, we all went to the lighthouse, leaving some of our family to observe and retrieve the plane on the ground.  We launched it several times and the flight path was basically the same every time.  Basically a spiral straight down.  Oh! Well we had fun with the kids.

Throwing the glider from the lighthouse

While we were preparing to depart our vacation for home, I gave the prop glider to my grandson from Tulsa and the no-prop glider to my grand daughter from Fort Scott.  I was afraid of them getting broken, so packed the prop glider back in the box it came in.  I did not have the plastic wrap the other had some in.  My grand daughter wanted hers in a box as well, so we dumped out some cookies and used the cookie box.

glider in a box
Glider in a cookie box

Here is my daughter’s description of our grandson and the plane:

“Cademan fell asleep holding his plane box in the van on the way home and as soon as we got home he pulled it all out and begged us to put it together while we were unloading. Joel finally took him out to the golf course under Cademan’s strict instructions to NOT let it go in the pond! After a while Joel then came back in and Cademan sat on his slide playing with his plane. He wanted to take his plane in the bath with him but I said it would break. So he settled for sleeping with it but this morning he woke up and has been playing with his plane ever since! I think I need to get used to having a son with 1 arm cuz that’s all he can use with the plane in the other! Lol!

Anyway, just wanted to let u know how much he loves his plane!

He also told me last night that it was his and Daddy’s cuz they were special!”

I am getting a lot of Papa miles out of this plane.  It is kind of like frequent flyer status.


Grandson with the nod

Recently, our son told of his attempt to get our grandson to begin talking.  He kinda/sorta says some words, like my name(Papa), Mama, Car etc.  Benjamin is one and a half years old and doing quite well with most activities including communication, yet not with words.

Marked asked a question to which the answer was “yes”.  So, Benjamin shook his head in an up and down motion.  To try to get him to “say” yes, Mark told him to say it with his mouth.  Benjamin replied by opening his mouth and shaking his head in an up and down motion.  What a kid!

Larry-proud Papa

A Trip to Guatemala to See Little Hudson


Answer:  GO VISIT HIM!

Well, it was a little bit more complicated than visiting their other new grandson, Ryan Daniel Ray, who was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  To visit this grandson, Hudson Michael Shead, they had to sell a cow and save up quite a bit  first.

Question:   WHY?




Though they were in the middle of language school, they took a seven week break and went to Guatemala City to be with a midwife.  Now that they were back in school and back in their host family’s house at Xela, it was time for Papa and Grandma to meet the little fellow.

On July 8th, Papa and Grandma boarded the plane, took to the skies, and flew across the Gulf of Mexico for Guatemala City.  It was a perfect flight, though going through the security in the airport in Tulsa, Grandma had to be checked to see if she was a terrorist.  She found out where NOT to hide money, or it would raise questions!

They arrived in Guatemala City at 1;17 and went through customs quickly with their three checked luggage and two carry-on baggage.  Michael was waiting at the entrance with his Jimmy Carter smile (something his parents used to say when he was young, and Jimmy Carter was president).

All of the bags barely fit in the taxi. Then off Papa and Grandma went for a completely different cultural ride in a taxi. They felt completely safe, but taxis in Guatemala do not go by the U.S. rules of the road.  The taxi took off on what really was made to be a two lane street…except drivers make it into a four lane with NO room in between the vehicles.  At least one would think there was no room as one could stick their hand out the window and touch the vehicles next to them.

Surprise! Surprise!  What other cultures are able to do,  Americans couldn’t dare try.  In between the crowded four lanes of vehicles, came a motor cycle…right between the already ” close cars” ! Oh! My!  Do the Guatemalan drivers know how to squeeze into tight places! If a lane change was needed, Mr. Taxi driver would just angle his car toward the car next to.   Traffic moves quickly, horns honk as vehicles about touch each other, but no one seems to get scrapped or bumped.  Interesting!

Michael had the taxi driver stop at a fast food place,  grabbed some sandwiches, and then took off to the bus station where a bus would take the excited Papa and Grandma up the mountains to Xela to see little Hudson.

More on how excited they were to see the little fellow on the next blog entry.



The Saving of the duckling

Recently, my wife, Vickie, was watching some of our ducks in the water when she noticed that 2 full sized ducks were apparently pecking at a duckling.  The duckling was in the water and having trouble staying afloat.  She shooed the adult ducks away and picked up the duckling.

When picking up the duckling, she found that a snapping turtle had it by the leg and had been trying to drag it under and have lunch.

I went back later to try to eliminate the turtle, but could not find it.

Rain Gutter protection from leaves

When I was with my son, Mark, at Costco in Kansas City a few months ago, we say a product to keep leaves and junk out of your gutters.  It is a triangular piece of foamy substance that is to absorb water and let it flow down the gutter and keep the leaves, etc on top.  After they dry out, hopefully they will blow away somewhere.

I just last night installed this stuff on the north end of my carport.  Then prayed for rain!!

Today it rained.  So far, we have about seven tenths of an inch.  The electricity has been on and off as well.  We are praying for a good soaking and no damage.

I stepped out under the carport and looked at the underside of the gutter.  It did not have volumes of water running down the side as it had in the past.  So, I am marking this one down as a success, so far anyway!


Obstinate Cow

Last year one of our cows was moving rather slowly and was always the last one to show up anywhere in the field.  So, I decided that she was getting old and since she did not appear to be pregnant as she should be, it was time to sell her.

However, since she was almost always the last cow to show up, it was difficult to get her into the feed lot by my usual method.  The usual method is to call the cattle and feed them some range cubes in the feedlot.  Most of them would come running and of course, the first ones who arrived, got most of the food.  She would not get there before the feed was all gone and the cattle were leaving the feedlot, so she did not go into the lot.

One day, I asked a cowboy friend if he had any ideas on how to get her into the feedlot.  He came out with his horse and worked to round up this wayward cow.  He spent the good part of an hour trying to herd her in.  To no avail.  So, we gave up for the time being.

Several weeks after the horse and rider episode, she had a calf, much to my surprise!!  Not a good time to sell her at this point.

This spring (2011), I noticed one day, that the cattle were all pretty close to the feedlot, including the red whiteface that was the target of our previous year’s hunt.  We had sold her calf, so did not have to contend with separating them.  So, I fed the range cubes in the feed bunk and the cattle came in, including Mrs. Red whiteface.  I closed the gate and we had her!!!  YES!

We separated the cattle and let out the ones we did not want to sell.  We left 4 calves with the Red Whiteface cow so she would have some company until Saturday.  Saturday is the day that the local sale barn has their sale.

Our grand daughter spent the night with us and was excited to be going with me to the sale barn that Saturday.  She is 4 years old.  We walked the cattle around and around the feedlot trying to get them into the smaller pen and eventually into the trailer.  We finally did get her into the smaller pen and then let the calves out into the pasture.  We THOUGHT we had it made, but we were wrong!

My very patient wife worked to get feed in the trailer to coax the cow into the trailer.  I got in the pen and walked her around to get some action toward the trailer.  After a while, her attitude toward me deteriorated and she would stare at me, like she wanted to kill me.  At that point, I decided to get out of the pen and up on the fence.  She still charged at me and made me feel very uncomfortable.

Finally, my wife hung out in the hot sun for about 2 hours hiding by the trailer prepared to close the gate when she got in the trailer.  It never happened.

We decided to feed her in the trailer and just keep her in the pen until we could get her into the trailer.  After about 4 days, she would go into the trailer even when we were about 20 feet away.  At this point, we had a rope tied to the inside gate in the stock trailer, so that we could pull it from some distance and lock her in when the time came.

So, Saturday morning, a week from our original date to sell her, we got up about  7:30 and fed her in the front of the trailer.  She got in and we sprung the trap.  She was not a happy camper and turned around to try to find a way out.  We locked the middle gate and the outer gate and were ready to go.

I picked up my grand daughter at her house (she was waiting on the front porch with a container of cookies for us to eat while waiting at the sale barn).  We got to the sale barn and as we unloaded, I told the crew that the cow was not happy.  When the gate was opened, she jumped right out and everyone stayed clear.  SUCCESS!

We parked the truck and trailer and I gave my grand daughter a tour of the auction arena (the sale had not yet started).  I then took her home and then went back to the farm.  Later in the evening, I went back to town to pick up a check.  She weighed 920 pounds and brought a little over $600.  I praise the Lord that this particular cow is no longer a part of the Sheadfarm.

WSU India/Nepal Graduate Student Retreat

We had a great weekend with an awesome group.  They were a group of graduate students from Wichita State University.  Pictured below from L to R:  Krushnamraju & Suhaeini Kosuru, married and both doctors in India who are working on their US Doctorate. Great couple…and great cooks.  Tyler Doersksen, who spear-headed the retreat and who makes great mint tea.  Also, Suvidha Samant, a graduate biologist from Southern India, who made a great dish  and Pravin  from Nepal who taught us how to make MoMo.

We learned so much from this group and enjoyed their wonderful cooking.  We took them to the Amish where they helped us load up firewood and then toured the Amish goat dairy.

We had a great weekend.

October 2010