Volume 1,  Issue 1                                                        October, 2005                                                                   Page 2




Gary Courtney
From lakeside                                                                                                       To saddle

                  __________________________________  *  *  *  _________________________________

October, 2005, No. 1
October, 2005, No. 2

November, 2005, No. 3


Editor’s Note:                                  

               Author, photographer and historian Gary Courtney has moved to Vallecito Lake, from the historic  Cookson Hills-Lake Tenkiller area or northeastern Oklahoma, where he chronicled the history, created month-long museum exhibits at Northeastern State University, served as a keynote guest speaker at Oklahoma University’s Sam Noble Museum and for organization meetings, created a 100-page online magazine on the Internet, and provided front-page feature stories, plus a front-page community action column in the weekly newspaper.

               Gary is a business automation and organization pioneer of 40 years, turned journalist and photojournalist for the last seven years, with an ardent interest in recording history and events, and in serving as an asset to the community. His camera, pen, backpack, and riding boots stay at the ready, 24/7.

               He has had a beneficial effect on his home community, with stories from his books he early-released over the past five years to his local newspaper. One story of a 77-year-old rancher’s life resulted in the man’s nomination to the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City. His press releases created the public’s image to help elect the present District Attorney of Gary’s four-county district, and he wrote and did the photo shoot for the front-page coverage of both the new district attorney and the new sheriff’s swearing-in ceremonies in the local courtroom.

               Gary Courtney’s community action, running commentary column writing style is in the mode of Will Rogers, where no one is sacred, and common sense is the guide. He is not hesitant to point out things needing action, help, or attention in the community, to the highest level required for results. At the same time, he is not hesitant to commend someone for their positive contributions, philanthropy, and volunteer efforts. He was born and raised around a small town newspaper, riding his tricycle on the sidewalk in  front of the newspaper offices, and, later, around one of the largest commercial printing companies in the southwest, where his father was a printer.

               The inspiration for Gary’s column comes from Roger Devlin, who wrote a similar community-focused column in the Tulsa Tribune, every day for over 35 years.

                                                                                                                        The Editor                  ______________________________________  *  *  *  _____________________________________

October, 2005, No. 2

November, 2005, No. 3

October, 2005, No. 1

Special Thanks Are Due

                   Many thanks for the cordial welcome and assist in my getting oriented and settled here.

              Those involved included:
                        Jerry McCoy, of Coldwell Banker, the Healy family, at their Country Market and Mexican Food, Gail Rush, of Bayfield Realty, Jamie Wagner, David McGinnis, of Kaeser & Blair advertising and promotions and the local Chamber of Commerce,


     Volume 1,  Issue 1                                                        October, 2005                                                                   Page 3


RAMBLER (Cont’d.)

                        Mike Morrison, foreman of the Wits End Ranch, Jen Thornton, of the Rocky Mountain General Store, Clay Bartlett, of the Vallecito Volunteer Fire Department, and Craig, of Virginia’s Steak House, all of Vallecito.

               Also, a thank you goes to:
                        Heather, at the Bayfield Post Office, Molly, of the U.S. Forest Service in Durango, Donnel, at the Shell station in Bayfield, Donna Lee, Rebecca, and Chrissy, of the Pine River Public Library, Cathy, who was first to  graciously receive me at the Pine River Times, and my new neighbor, Adam Cox.

               It has been six and seven years ago, since I visited Vallecito, to photograph and write for a feature story and a book chapter, on two consecutive annual 14-day backpacking trips. One expedition was off the train at Durango from the Needleton stop, and one was on the Pine River and Runlett Peak trails, here. A side trip was also made to Mesa Verde.

              This area first captured my heart when I carried out seven annual solo backpacking expeditions to 14,000 feet in the Colorado Rockies, during the 1970’s. It was just me alone in the wilderness, in the snow above tree-line, with two cameras, a 70-pond backpack, and an ice axe, for two weeks.


              Just a friendly reminder: If you haven’t tended to the task of winterizing your home, cabin, and other structures, now is the time to get with the program. Don’t forget your vehicles, too. Winter temperatures in Vallecito can get as low as zero to minus 20 degrees. Snowfall last year totaled 30 feet, in the Vallecito area.

               Close up any openings that might be a tempting place for animals and insects to hibernate. You might be hosting some baby skunks, next Spring!  

               This is a perfect example of one of those “one spouse delegates to the other” situations. Remember that, just as in a business or civic project, one person needs to assume the responsibility of getting the task done, even when a team is involved.

Chamber of Commerce Membership

               Get involved in your local Chamber. Currently, dues for the Vallecito Chamber of Commerce are $225 annually. Monthly meetings are held on the 2nd Thursday of each month at 7:00 P.M., in different lodges and homes.

               For further information, contact the Chamber at 247-1573, current president of the Chamber, Roland Healy, at Roland and Diane’s Country Market and Mexican Food, on the lake, or call David McGinnis at (970) 884-2666.

The Ranch Scene

               Double Eagle -       

               Take special note of the regular, large herd of deer crossing the road on C.R. 501, from the meadow to the forest in two places, just north of the 90-degree corner turnoff on C.R. 502 at the Double Eagle Ranch, and, especially, north of the Lemon Reservoir turnoff.

               Be especially cautious of those deer crossings in the early evening, as you travel to and from Bayfield and Durango.

               The cattle on the road, near Anglers' Marina in Vallecito, come down every year, on their own, from high mountain pastures. I understand a truck from the ranch will soon come pick them up.


     Volume 1,  Issue 1                                                        October, 2005                                                                   Page 4


RAMBLER (Cont’d.)

Cell Phone Service in Vallecito

               The new Alltel cellular service tower is almost ready for use.  The communications tower was thought to be ready for use. However, an electrical power phase problem was found, which required correction, before the Vallecito and upper Pine River area service could begin.

DSL Coming to Vallecito

               Ron Weller, of QWest Customer Service in Durango, will have his wife attend an upcoming meeting of the Vallecito Community Council, to bring everyone up to date on the status of DSL for the lake area.

               Special equipment, which I have personally implemented, including computers for customer-to-port addressing, routers, and signal aggregators, also have to be installed and set up in the Central Office of any phone company, in order to provide DSL service.

Reforestation of the Missionary Ridge Burn Zone

               Wonder if some of the volunteer hiking trail maintenance groups, such as the “Green Thumb” retirees, and area outfitters would assist our U.S. Forest Service personnel? They could certainly help in clearing dangerous, dry dead timber, and in replanting critical forestation on the steep mountain slopes.

               Bear in mind, some trees, like aspen, are more apt to re-emerge on their own. Other trees, like pine, do not propagate as well, naturally. The Forest Service can replant aspen, for example, with seed mats, preloaded with seed and fertilization.

               In a shock to the ecosystem, as in the Missionary Ridge fire, they all need our help to recover. A speedy replacement of the trees and vegetation are required, to combat erosion, and silting of the lakes and streams.

 Vallecito Community Center Status

               The latest word on the planned opening of the new Vallecito Community Center comes from David McGinnis of the Chamber of Commerce.

               Originally built in the 1950’s, the 50 by 140-foot facility is now open for activities, and will accommodate seating of 300 to 400 people.

               Re-furbishing of the Vallecito Community Center was completed in time for the Vallecito Chamber of Commerce Labor Day Pancake Breakfast.

Senior Citizen Needs in Bayfield

               Someone handed me a special request, to see if we could build a senior citizen center in Bayfield.

               Please be aware the senior citizens group has been forced to utilize facilities of the Bayfield Middle School, for lack of their own building.

               Perhaps the situation can be remedied, as long as the seniors group promises to not get too rowdy and disturb the peace, in a building of their own!


     Volume 1,  Issue 1                                                        October, 2005                                                                   Page 5


RAMBLER (Cont’d.)

New Golf Course Receives Approval

               The plan submitted to the La Plata County Planning Commission for a golf course to be constructed in Vallecito, on Wits End Ranch property, was granted approval.

               Initial concerns of local residents involved the density of the residential tracts near the course, on approximately 180 acres. Original plans were for half-acre lots, and some felt the impact on the area infrastructure would be better with the development of one-acre lots.

               The residential development would increase the local population density, but it would be a blessing to local businesses, who have to weather through an extreme seasonal activity cycle, to remain here for the residents' convenience. So, there are two viewpoints on the issue.


       The latest word on a tribute to Vallecito pioneer “Buckskin Charlie”

                 __________________________________  *  *  *  _________________________________

            Author’s Note:

               If you have any comments, news, or suggestions, please contact me:

The Rambler
The Vallecito Legend
82 Ponderosa Rd
Bayfield, CO  81122
E-Mail: vallecitolegend@hotmail.com

                 __________________________________  *  *  *  _________________________________

October, 2005, No. 1
November, 2005, No. 3

October, 2005, No. 2

Cell Phone Service
            You know, since I moved here, and found my Cellular One service doesn’t show signal up the valley around Vallecito, I think I figured out a solution.
            After the Alltel cell tower is activated to serve the Vallecito area, Alltel’s board of directors and shareholders could just buy out Cellular One!

Vallecito Realtor Changes Affiliation

            Longtime resident and award-winning realtor of Vallecito, Jerry McCoy, has changed his real estate business affiliation to become RE/MAX Western Realty.
            McCoy, who was previously affiliated with Coldwell Banker, has lived in Vallecito, and has given of himself in community and civic affairs for 22 years.
            Jerry has been involved in civic benefits and organizations, and currently serves on the board of Vallecito Community Council, Inc., which operates the newly-refurbished community center.
            Early in his career, Jerry McCoy graduated from the University of Missouri, and taught physics at the University of Tulsa.           

Vallecito Community Council Meeting

                The meeting of the Vallecito Community Center, presided over by Jay Powell last Tuesday evening, included two significant presentations, plus additional, helpful information from the VCC officers.
            Marilyn McCord and Barbara Wagner gave VCC members and other concerned residents a well-prepared, well-presented, and informative presentation, complete with posters of pictures, on the status, grants, and goals of the group’s trail, park, and drainage projects.

            Gwen Weller, wife of Ron Weller of QWest, gave attendees a status report on DSL Internet service to Vallecito, via fiber optics cable, and its communications relationship to Alltel’s cell tower on Middle Mountain. Gwen related that DSL and cell phone service is expected to be active the first week of October, after a September 30 continuity test of the connection with Alltel District offices in Farmington, New Mexico. Services in the less-populated area below the dam will come later.
            In my later inquiry of the technicians on-site at the fiber optics cable pedestal, on the north edge of Wits End Ranch, they indicated the test was looking favorable.
            Special DSL equipment, which I have personally implemented, including computers for customer-to-port addressing, routers, and signal aggregators, also have to be installed and set up in the Central Office of any phone company, in order to provide DSL service.

            After the presentations, the VCC officers met to discuss organization business matters.

 Seasonal Sheep Migration           

            The traffic I experienced with vehicles living in big cities, such as Houston and Tulsa, and traffic I experienced with whitetail deer in a resort area, such as Lake Tenkiller, Oklahoma, differs from the traffic jams here.
            Driving into Bayfield last week, I suddenly found myself in the midst of hundreds of sheep on the road, in a drive by sheepherders and dogs, from their high mountain pastures to winter grazing at a lower altitude. Suddenly, it appeared I had transported to the Basque province of Spain!
            So long as I didn’t create mutton chops with my front bumper, I decided to make the best of the roadblock, and turn it into a photographer’s shoot of the event. As everyone inched their cars along in the middle of the herd, I got pictures from the center of the action.

 Senior Center Meeting

            The La Plata County Council on Ageing will hold a meeting Wednesday, October 26th, at 10:00 A.M., in the Pine River Valley Library in Bayfield.

            The primary topic of discussion will be the need for a Senior Citizens’ Center in Bayfield, so residents will not have to use the Bayfield Middle School.           

 Quotes of Note:

            “A measure of true character is when people can put aside their differences, and band together to help another in time of crisis.”
                                                                                        Gary Courtney

October, 2005, No. 1
October, 2005, No. 2

November, 2005, No. 3


       Add to our previous mention of preparations for the cold Winter season that of cars and propane.

    Most people check their antifreeze strength in their car radiators. Some even lay in a supply of "antifreeze" for their own bodies. However, many tend to forget to check their windshield washer fluid, to make sure it's not water, and forget to carry emergency provisions in their car.

    The most crucial provisions, such as:


A thermal blanket or down comforter,


Parkas and gloves,


A radio and batteries,


First-aid kit,


Cell phone and extra battery, and


Food and water,

should be kept inside the passenger area - NOT IN THE TRUNK,
which may become inaccessible due to snow covering the vehicle. A family of four has been known to survive an unexpected Colorado blizzard, completely buried in their car for a week, on one jar of peanut butter, with blankets, and parkas with gloves. Just be mindful, some heaters are O.K. for well-ventilated areas, but could be fatal, if they emit carbon monoxide or use up all the oxygen in a confined space.

    Provisions for the car, itself, should include such things as:


A full tank of gas,


Chains and small tarp,






Window scraper, and


Bags of sand, for increased traction weight or to pour under the wheels if stuck.

    Don't forget your friendly neighborhood propane delivery driver, and the cooking and heating you prize highly. Snow may prevent his delivering vital propane, and he'd just as soon bring your re-supply before the bad roads happen, and before you reach a critically low level.

A Medical Science Observation

   When James Mooney lived for four years with the Cherokees, during the 1880's, he was assigned as part of the Bureau of American Ethnology, directed by John Wesley Powell, explorer of Grand Canyon. Mooney's mission was to document the lore of the culture and the knowledge of the Medicine Men.

   James Mooney's findings are documented in a volume of about 300 pages. He found that one Cherokee Medicine Man knew the use of over 500 plants. Three Medicine Men, together, knew the use of 832 plants! This use was common by many tribes across the continent, from Iroquois and Seminole, to Ute, Navajo and Sioux, and is now being further supported by modern medical science. The Ute and Navajo Medicine Men have passed the knowledge down for centuries. Both physical evidence and DNA analysis, by Georgia University science teams and English research, show the early migration form Asia by three DNA groups by land, and one by sea (probably the Creeks), over 35,000 years ago.

   In my travels and being hosted by the people of South Korea, on multiple trips there, I studied the culture and 5,000 years of recorded history, as a linguist, historian, and amateur archaeologist/anthropologist, even exploring an abandoned dig at a temple site from 532 A.D. The use of plants, and even burial customs and symbols of the Korean and Chinese people are identical to those of our American Indians, of which I am one! The burial mounds of the ancient Korean Kings, with their gold and jade droplet crowns and sword sheaths, at Kwang-Ju, on the East Sea, took me back to the advanced culture at Spiro Mounds in Oklahoma.

   In an antique store in Seoul, I bought several 200 to 300-year-old, oak blanket and rice chests, by no means real antiques by the Korean standard. I asked about a hand-wrought iron design on the chests, used for thousands of years. That symbol for Good Fortune, universally understood by all American tribes on wampum trading belts, is exactly the same in Korea and China.

   Mooney's study was extremely noted and respected, by the white society and the Cherokees. When an author was interviewing a Cherokee family in North Carolina, she asked about a certain facet of their customs. The elder man of the home stood up, and excused himself, saying, "Just a minute. Let me go get Mr. Mooney's book."

   The Cherokees not only had the benefit of their ancient knowledge, and their advanced government structure and intellect, but also, as early as the 1700's, sent their sons to the world's foremost universities, such as Oxford and later Harvard. In the 1700's, Cherokee chiefs traveled as far as Europe, on diplomatic missions.

A footnote to this bit of history:
       There was another motive to the taking of Cherokee lands
in Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, West Virginia, Georgia, and Alabama. This motive was mirrored in unjust actions against many tribes, including the Utes. Mooney documented (on page 226) over $46 million worth of gold mined in Cherokee homelands, by early 1800's dollars. The Cherokees were deprived of 46,500,000 acres, in one treaty among others, by Georgia, and moved to Oklahoma in 1838-39, after taking the rest of their land, and forcing them from their homes at gunpoint. Three of the northern Georgia Cherokees had the wealthiest and most advanced plantations in the state, and not even the required number of chiefs signed the Treaty of New Echota, before Congress moved them off their property!
   The Cherokees who moved voluntarily to Missouri and Arkansas, as early as 1794 to 1811, were forced out of the lands guaranteed them by Arkansas, 10 years before the 1838 "Trail of Tears" from the East. Sequoyah was one of those forced out, while teaching his alphabet, along with Dwight Mission children's school at Russellville, Arkansas. Once in Oklahoma, and armed with a new printing press as in North Carolina, the Cherokees were the best educated and informed group in the nation.

   Sequoyah's salary as a teacher? It was 300 percent of Principal Chief Tsalonteegee's salary!

Fact you can file and forget
The telegraph lines, using Morse Code messages, in "greater downtown" Bayfield were replaced by the new-fangled telephone lines in 1904.

October, 2005, No. 1
October, 2005, No. 2

November, 2005, No. 3

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