Saturday, October 23, 2010

Day 17- Steamboat Lake and Jarvie Ranch History

October 1st 2010 Day 17 Friday

Tyler and I had decided to stay for the weekend so we could go up to Steamboat Lake and camp out with Bear, Rayne and Joel. Tyler brought our camper up there early in the day to secure a couple of choice camp grounds and Bear followed up with his RV, speedboat in tow.

I stayed in Steamboat with Rayne, helping her to pack up the RV before Bear took it to the lake. We went to a great river-side restaurant for some appetizers and cocktails before meeting the guys. The person who owns this restaurant in Steamboat is a woman who went to a gas station to buy some birthday candles for her husband’s cake and decided, for the first time in her life I might add, to buy a lottery ticket. She ended up winning some absurd amount, I think it was around $20 million and so she bought this restaurant! Some people are just super lucky I guess.

I really like talking to Rayne, especially because we are both really interested in history and western culture. She knows so much about this part of the country and has tons of fascinating books that I’ve been combing through. One of them, a BLM Utah book about Brown’s Park and the old Jarvie ranch historic site, I would love to buy but it seems you can’t get it anywhere but at that physical site! The ranch is very close to the Colorado border in Utah, not too far from where we were at Steamboat Lake but unfortunately not in the direction we were generally headed. Although we are trying to be super flexible so we can stop in all the interesting places we come across we have some limitations since we get terrible gas mileage with the travel trailer. I wish I had known how cool that site was before we came to Steamboat Springs because we could have worked it then but oh well. I’m sure we’ll be in this area again fairly soon so I’ll have the opportunity at some point to check it out.  

The BLM book I mentioned is basically a compilation of many great stories from when John Jarvie was alive. Common characters in the stories are Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid and many other wonderfully notorious individuals from back in the day. In such a lawless time and place everyone was pretty sketchy and questionably ethical but outlaws, Native Americans and laypeople in this particular area tended to live harmoniously. It wasn’t until the Sand Creek Massacre that relations between settlers and the victimized and understandably suspicious Native Americans started to deteriorate (For more info on that see the entry for Day 9).

There were several stories that almost had me in tears I was laughing so hard. One described Butch Cassidy, at the first formal dinner the town had put together, as being incredibly nervous having to formally serve the tea even though he was completely composed in such simple acts as robbing a train or bank. He had to be taken into the back of the dining area and taught how to pour the tea correctly but even still he was a nervous wreck. I loved reading real stories about the everyday lives of people like him who are so often shrouded in a cloud of mystery and legend. Reading about their personal quirks really humanizes them.

Rayne and I drove up to the lake in the late afternoon. I went out on the speedboat with Tyler, Joel and Joel’s friend for a quick spin around the lake once we got there. When contemplating the weekend we weren’t sure if we wanted to go up to Steamboat Lake because Tyler grew up camping here when it had not yet been decimated by the Japanese pine beetles and we were afraid it would be too depressing if it looked terribly unhealthy. Although the beetles have done a number on the pine trees out here it’s a slight consolation to see the trees growing back and we were glad to have come out. I guess the beetles aren’t fans of the young trees, which is great because it gives them some time to make a comeback.

Hanz contemplating Steamboat Lake from his bed

Tyler with the beetle-ravaged pine trees in the background
We all went out to dinner in the town of Hahns Peak at the Hahns Peak Café which wasn’t kidding with its old wooden sign stating “If you’re in a hurry you’re in the wrong place.” Hahns Peak is technically now a ghost town and it has a very small population of people that all know each other. In the time of Butch Cassidy and the wild, wild West it actually held the county seat and a large jail for housing prisoners. We spent several hours there because of course Rayne and Bear knew every single person there and they all wanted to know who we were. The food and company were both great so it wasn’t until fairly late that we got back from the restaurant/bar.

We made a fire at the campsite and sat around talking and making s’mores for dessert. I think I’ve had about as many s’mores on this trip as I have in my whole life, hahaha. I guess it’s because this trip has been super conducive to having campfires and s’mores are a natural extension of that! 

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