Lifestyle – The Pagosa Springs SUN The most trusted source for news and information about Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Fri, 10 Jul 2020 14:45:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Lifestyle – The Pagosa Springs SUN 32 32 Pagosa’s Past: Trailin’ the Piedra River East Fork Mon, 13 Jul 2020 11:00:50 +0000

Photo courtesy John Motter
Henry Gordon was an old-time cowboy who homesteaded on Gordon Creek in O’Neal Park. He was a bachelor who lived to an old age, raising beef on his ranch.

By John M. Motter
PREVIEW Columnist

Have you ever had a strong yearning that wouldn’t go away? A few years ago, I had a good job at Disneyland and a nice house in a nice neighborhood in southern California. I was living the epitome of the American Dream. But, I had grown up in rural southern Oregon picking wild blackberries and exploring wilderness trails. The yearning to move back to the country wouldn’t go away; you could say the yearnin’ kept’a yankin’.

I had the start of a young family with its attendant responsibilities. I knew jobs in the country were scarce and low paying. Flash! My solution was to enroll in and complete correspondence courses in wildlife management and parks management. 

Shortly after I completed the courses, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Management Department announced their intent to hire managers for about a dozen state parks. Along with several hundred other applicants, mostly with college degrees, I underwent oral and written testing for the positions. I finished eighth and chose to go to newly opened Navajo Lake State Park. You didn’t ask, but that’s how I got here.

As I settled into my new job at Arboles, I couldn’t help yearning, staring eastward at the long range of mountains making up the Continental Divide. One of the part-time employees told me how to find the trail following the East Fork of the Piedra into those mountains. My first adventures into the mountains were into that East Fork canyon. It was a tough hike starting with a steep climb. I carried a 40-pound pack. Once the trail leveled off beside a spectacular waterfall, there was a tin cup, hanging from a tree beside Tin Cup Creek. The sparkling creek supplied a better drink than any bar anywhere.

Fishing was great because not many folks were willing to burn the sweat necessary to get up there and so the stream was not fished out. No fish tastes better than a cutthroat trout cooked over a campfire. Drifting an American Beauty or mosquito fly tied on a number 22 barbed hook worked every time. Many a night, I poked a willow stick into a biscuit, balanced a frying pan on a rock at the edge of the campfire, feasted and then climbed into my sleeping bag.

An owl hooted and coyotes barked as I dozed off, stretched out on my back watching for shooting stars in the night sky. I woke at first light, fried eggs and bacon, washed the dishes, put out the fire and did some exploring. Rumor had it that a cache of gold had been hidden in that canyon. I never found it, but enjoyed looking at the wildflowers, rocks, etc. I did find a flint arrowhead which someone told me was the kind used by Pueblo Indians to hunt birds.

As time went by, I ascended, fished in and slept beside all of the rivers in this area. I fished the lakes as well, but without much success. Even today, when this old man daydreams, fishing up the Piedra East Forks tops the list.

Free weekly garden talk: successive sowing and garden planning Mon, 13 Jul 2020 11:00:13 +0000 By Leslie Wustrack
Pagosa Springs Community Gardeners

The Pagosa Springs Community Garden is sponsoring a free online educational series on gardening throughout the spring and summer months. 

Renowned expert Ron Chacey covers all topics related to gardening in the Pagosa Springs area. All gardening talks are free and accessible via computer or telephone 

On Wednesday, July 15, at 5:30 p.m., Chacey, the eminent regional vegetable grower and an original founder of the Pagosa Springs Community Garden, will discuss extending your growing season with successive sowing coupled with garden planning. 

The evening’s format begins with photos of Chacey’s personal garden and an instructional video, and he will discuss what he is currently doing in his garden. An in-depth presentation on best practices of garden planning and the type of vegetables appropriate for mid-summer successive sowing for a vegetable garden will follow. All participants will be muted, but will invited to send in questions on his presentation and on any gardening topic. 

An avid grower with seven decades plus of experience, Chacey is a believer in trial and error in all areas of gardening. Chacey believes that learning from mistakes is the foundation of successful gardening. 

The 5:30 p.m. free gardening talk will be held via Zoom or telephone. To join our email list and receive weekly talk information, please send an email to For the July 15 talk, please visit or email for easy links to the talks. 

The Pagosa Springs Community Garden is located at the end of 5th Street on the San Juan River in downtown Pagosa Springs. Decades old, the garden is on land owned by the Town of Pagosa Springs and plots are granted to the town’s citizens free of charge. In 2017, the garden was rejuvenated by community volunteers with the assistance of Pagosa Springs businesses. Raised beds and deer-out fencing were constructed with donated lumber. Soil amendments, fertilizers, seeds, plant starts, tools, hoses and other necessary items are all provided through the generosity of Pagosa Springs businesses. The Town of Pagosa Springs provides free water for the Pagosa Springs Community Garden. 

The Pagosa Springs Community Garden is free and open to all. Residents and town visitors are invited to stop by and enjoy the lovely space. 

Bird of the Week Mon, 13 Jul 2020 11:00:02 +0000

Photo courtesy Charles Martinez

This week’s Bird of the Week, compliments of the Weminuche Audubon Society and Audubon Rockies, is the ash-throated flycatcher.

This flycatcher, myiarchus cinerascens, is a passerine, the largest order of birds, all of which are accommodated by three toes forward and one back for perching. This songbird is identified by its slight, slender build, long brown tail with rust-colored underside, pale gray head and face, yellow to brownish-olive belly and a noticeable peaked crest on its large head. The bill is dark and slim, and two whitish wing bars mark the wing.

Its habitat is desert scrub and riparian, oak and coniferous woodlands. Spring migration occurs from mid-March to mid-May to breeding areas from the western United States to central Mexico, but they can wander beyond, often to the east coast of North America. In fall, migration occurs from August to mid-September to winter grounds from central Mexico to Honduras.

Known as an insectivore, it feeds on insects from the ground or in foliage undergrowth and has also been known to kill small reptiles or mammals by banging them against hard objects. In winter, when insects are scarce, it will consume fruit. As with other desert animals, this flycatcher doesn’t need to drink water, but obtains it through the food it consumes.

Ash-throated flycatchers nest in unusual places — fence posts, clotheslines, pipes and under house eaves — when holes in trees, possibly woodpecker holes, are not available. Nests built by both sexes occur 2-25 feet above ground and have four or five brown and lavender-colored eggs. Both parents gather food and continue to feed the young several days after they fledge.

This songbird population is stable at present.

For information on future events, visit and

Veteran’s Corner: VA reinstates in-person services at medical facilities Sun, 12 Jul 2020 11:00:53 +0000 By Raymond Taylor
SUN Columnist

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced, as of mid-June, more than 100 VA medical facilities and medical centers (VAMCs) have reinstated at least one in-person service within their direct health care delivery system after certain services were temporarily on hold or reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

VA leadership reviews and considers many factors daily, including community infection rates, to determine when it is safe for a facility to expand services.

“We will continue to provide a safe environment for both veterans and employees,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “VA will also ensure the safety of patients and employees are a priority when implementing which Veterans Health Administration facilities move forward with expanding in-person services.”

The department’s focus has been to provide in-person care to veterans who have the greatest clinical need during the pandemic — while VAMCs remain open for urgent and emergency care services. For non-emergent care, telehealth appointments have been a valuable link between the VA and veterans during this challenging time; however, veterans should not delay contacting their care team to make an appointment if they have a medical concern.

The VA continues to increase telehealth appointments for veterans not in need of in-person services, which has now seen more than a 1,000 percent increase — totaling more telehealth visits in March 2020 than in all of 2019.

The VA will continue to use and expand innovative personalized telehealth options, phone consults and wellness checks regardless of a veteran’s geographic location. For information on which VAMCs are providing in-person services, contact the local VAMC directly. 

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line to receive free, confidential support and crisis intervention available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Call (800) 273-8255 and Press 1, text to 838255, or chat online at

For further information, please contact the Veteran Services Office (VSO).

The office of Archuleta County veterans service officer provides assistance to qualified military veterans, and their families, or a veteran’s survivors, in applying to and in obtaining VA program assistance, benefits and claims. This assistance is provided within the guidelines, policies and procedures established by the Colorado Department of Military and Veteran Affairs. This is a mandated program of the state of Colorado.

Contact information

Veterans: Thank you for your service. Welcome home.

For further information on VA benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County VSO, located at the Senior Center in the Ross Aragon Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard.

The office: 264-4013, fax number: 264-4014, and email is Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for applications to VA programs or benefits for which the veteran may be entitled to enroll, and for filing in the Archuleta County VSO office. Always leave me a message and phone number to contact you.

The following veterans groups meet in Pagosa Springs:

• American Legion Post 108: second Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.

• Veterans for Veterans: every Tuesday at 10 a.m., Episcopal Church, 225 S. Pagosa Blvd.

• Combat Veterans PTSD Group: every other Tuesday at noon, Community United Methodist Church, Lewis Street. Contact Gary Hanneman at 946-2540.

• Women’s Group of Spouses of Veterans: first and third Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m., Dr. Carter’s office; contact Charlotte at 903-9690.

Important information

• 799-VETS,

• Durango VA Outpatient Clinic: 247-2214.

• Farmington VA Center: (505) 326-4383.

• VAMC Albuquerque, N.M.: (800) 465-8262.

• VA Health Care Emergency Notification: (844) 724-7842.

The Veterans Crisis Line offers free, confidential support to veterans in crisis, as well as their family and friends 24/7/365. Call (800) 273-8255, chat online, or text 838255.

Extension Viewpoints: Ground covers: a great addition to gardens and landscapes Sun, 12 Jul 2020 11:00:11 +0000 By Robin Young
PREVIEW Columnist

Ground covers are a great addition to gardens and landscapes. When properly selected and planted, they provide visual interest (often in hard-to-grow areas), inhibit weeds, and reduce water needs by shading the underlying soil. Like all plants, they have specific needs in terms of sun, water and soil, and thrive when grown in appropriate areas.

Here are a few plants that tolerate both sun and shade: 

Creeping Oregon grape (mahonia repens) — A native growing along popular trails, this plant’s holly-shaped leaves turn various shades of red. Early bright yellow flowers are followed by blue berries. It can grow beside and under shrubs.

Common periwinkle (vinca minor) — Shiny green leaves appear as the snow melts, followed by small purple flowers. Occasional watering prevents wilting where it grows in sunnier areas.

Candytuft (iberis sempervirens) — This early-blooming plant produces early white blooms and summer-long green and somewhat woody foliage.

Dragon’s blood sedum (sedum spurium “Dragon’s Blood”) — With green succulent leaves and a late-blooming flower, this plant can spread beautifully between rocks and into bare spots.

Pussytoes (antennaria dioica) — This native plant is mat-forming and produces tiny pink flowers in spring. The foliage is a distinctive silver-blue color.

Some ground covers that may be too aggressive include the following:

Bugleweed (ajuga reptans) — This plant can out-compete grass; not recommended to plant near lawns or other grassy areas. Control can be challenging.

Creeping potentilla (potentilla neumanniana) — This plant can co-mingle with other plants and can spread in a weed-like fashion.

Snow on the mountain (aegopodium podagraria) — This is a shade-loving plant, but grows fast and can be invasive. It does not like sun and will wilt.

Archuleta County Fair

The Archuleta County Fair will host the 4-H livestock shows and general projects only this year and limit participation to 4-H youth and their immediate families. The livestock auction will be virtual. Please check back for more details to learn how to participate.

Donate to the Archuleta County 4-H program

The Archuleta County 4-H program boasts a membership of more than 150 members annually. Often, these programs rely on fundraisers to help offset the costs of the program, such awards, supplies and, most importantly, leadership opportunities. Members can attend various leadership camps and conferences statewide and even nationally. To help our program continue to support our members, we appreciate any contribution you make. To pay online, visit and select Contributions and Donations.

New Thought to discuss new paradigms Sat, 11 Jul 2020 11:00:53 +0000 By Lisa Burnson
New Thought Center
for Inspirational Living

“By each of us making a commitment to work on issues inside of our self and out in the world — and to inspire others to do the same — we are building a foundation for a new paradigm.” —

A paradigm is described as a set of beliefs that replaces another set of beliefs that is believed to no longer apply. It is a new way of thinking or doing things that replaces the old ways.

All are welcome to join New Thought Center for Inspirational Living (NTC) this Sunday, July 12, at 10 a.m. for our presentation: “New Paradigms: New Times, New Thoughts.” Our speaker will be Shayla White Eagle McClure.

We will have spirited live music.

Our sanctuary is sanitized and set up for social distancing.

Staying home? Please tune into our YouTube channel: Pagosa New Thought.

Upcoming events

Meditation Circle is held each Wednesday at 6 p.m. All are welcome.

Thursday, July 30, 6 p.m.: Outdoor concert in the courtyard. More information to follow.

About us

NTC is a New Thought center based on fostering living a spiritually centered life and promoting the philosophies of the Centers for Spiritual Living and the Agape Centers. NTC honors all lifestyles, cultures and religious paths to the divine.

We welcome local talent to share gifts, aptitudes and knowledge. Have a hand in making a difference. Participate, learn or contribute your insights, beliefs, knowledge and skills.

NTC events are held at 3505 W. U.S. 160, on the second floor of the Best Western Lodge (elevator available).

Request a concentrated affirmative mind treatment or obtain information by joining us; emailing; mailing P.O. Box 1052, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147-1052; or calling (505) 604-5031. Find us on Facebook (Pagosa Community of New Thought).

St. Patrick’s announces retirement of rector Sat, 11 Jul 2020 11:00:31 +0000

Sally Neel and the Rev. Douglas Neel

By Heidi Tanner
St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church

The Rev. Douglas Neel, rector of St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, has announced that he and his wife, Sally Neel (minister of music), will retire from their ministry effective July 31. Their last Sunday at St. Patrick’s will be on July 26.

Doug Neel came to St. Patrick’s in September of 2008 as the priest in charge and in 2009 became rector of the parish. His nearly 12 years of ministry at the church has allowed the church to grow both in membership and in ministry to the community. 

His focus on beautiful worship, Christian education, spirituality and outreach ministries has broadened the church’s mission to seek and serve Christ in all persons. He initiated such programs as Theology on Tap, a discussion group that meets in a local brewery, to discuss a variety of topics relating to the faith. Sunday Night Unplugged, a monthly music and meditation service, has drawn a strong community following, providing a beautiful setting to reflect, meditate and pray. 

His support of the parish’s longtime service projects such as the annual clothing giveaway, the church’s weekly food box ministry, serving hot lunches at Loaves and Fishes, the annual Christmas tea, the Irish Festival and other fundraisers to support local nonprofits has provided a strong outreach service to the community. 

Doug Neel is well-known for his willingness to give back to the community. He has served on the boards of numerous community service organizations, such as Loaves and Fishes, Rise Above Violence, Social Services oversight board, Pagosa Outreach Connection and Curtains Up Pagosa (CUP). He also is a past member of the Noon Rotary Club.

He has been active in the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado, serving on the Standing Committee (the bishop’s board of directors), and as Regional Missioner for the Western Slope (the bishop’s overseer for churches in the western region of Colorado). He was appointed by the bishop to be the diocesan liturgist for four years, planning and implementing worship for the diocesan annual conventions. 

While living here, Doug Neel finished and had his first book published, “The Food and Feasts of Jesus.” The book describes the food and culinary culture of Palestine at the time of Jesus and includes menus and recipes authentic to the time of Jesus. He has a second book that is almost completed. In past years, he enjoyed working “for fun” at a local restaurant on Fridays, helping his son and a friend with morning prep work. While there, he developed a recipe for the Italian muffaletta sandwich which was named for him, El Padre‘s Muffaletta.

His wife, Sally, provided an extra bonus when they moved to Pagosa Springs. Her training as a professional organist and choir director was immediately utilized and appreciated by both the church and in the community. Since the church did not have an organist when they arrived, Sally Neel filled that position and took over directing the church choir. 

She has been responsible for bringing in other musicians to the church as well. In 2011, she founded the Nightsong Trio, made up of herself on piano, Heidi Tanner (violin) and Jessica Peterson (flute). This musical ensemble has served to assist in worship and performed concerts for the general public. 

Sally Neel has developed a long list of local musicians who have generously assisted with the monthly Sunday Night Unplugged services at the church and, along with her husband, has assisted in developing and producing beautiful and unique times for meditation. 

Sally Neel has also been very active in the community, serving on the Music in the Mountains Steering Committee in 2008-2010, as well as musical director for CUP from 2008-2017. While serving on the board of CUP, she was the instigator behind establishing our local community band, which is now under the guidance of the Pagosa Springs Instrumental Music Society (PSIMS). 

Sally Neel has brought in numerous artists that have performed concerts at St. Patrick’s, including the Austin Piazzola Quintet, a trio of piano artists, choral ensembles and a variety of solo artists. The annual Heralds of Christmas, a greatly anticipated and well-attended Christmas concert at St. Patrick’s, was the brainchild of Sally Neel and trumpeter Karen Mesikapp of PSIMS. 

Doug and Sally Neel plan to continue to reside in Pagosa Springs, though they have hopes of traveling once the pandemic is under control. 

“We love Pagosa Springs and are happy to continue to call it home. However, since full-time church ministry has not been conducive to a great deal of free time, we look forward to traveling and seeing the U.S. and other countries as well,” said Doug Neel. 

“It is very difficult to say goodbye to this amazing congregation,” he said. “St. Patrick’s has been our church family and our dearest friends for almost 12 years. The members of St. Patrick’s commitment to our Lord and to service in his name is incredibly inspiring. They truly understand the mandates of Christ to be his hands and feet in the world, serving each other and those who are in need. Sally and I leave our friends in this parish knowing that they will continue to thrive in this capacity, being a beacon of light to all who are searching for the love of God.”

Sunday devotionals offered by the Baha’i Faith Sat, 11 Jul 2020 11:00:11 +0000 By Paulette Heber
Baha’i Community of Archuleta County

 The Baha’i Community of Archuleta County hosts weekly devotionals every Sunday morning at 10 to 10:30 a.m. via Zoom. All are welcome.

 Zoom link:, call-in number: (669) 900-6833, meeting ID: 884 668 836.

A weekly theme is reflected in the prayers, music, poetry and selections from world religions and various sources. All are encouraged to contribute inspirational pieces. This Sunday, July 12, our theme is forgiveness.

The Baha’i Faith is a world religion whose purpose is to unite all people of the world in one universal cause, one common faith.

“If someone commits an error and wrong toward you, you must instantly forgive him.” — Abdu’l Baha.

 To learn more about the Baha’i Faith, please visit the official international website of the Baha’i Faith at Our local contact is

Colorado Legislative Lowdown virtual event planned Fri, 10 Jul 2020 14:34:00 +0000 By Janice Sheftel
League of Women Voters
of La Plata County

In this election year, it is especially important for citizens to keep abreast of the actions of the Colorado General Assembly. 

One opportunity for voters to learn about the performance of the most recent Colorado legislative session is through the virtual Colorado Legislative Lowdown, sponsored by the League of Women Voters of La Plata County. 

The 1.5-hour session with Sen. Don Coram and Rep. Barbara McLachlan, to be held on July 11, at 10 a.m., will focus on the highlights of the 72nd Colorado General Assembly. 

To participate or submit questions, find webinar information at or 

Car Hop Movie Nights: A drive-in fundraiser Fri, 10 Jul 2020 11:00:42 +0000 By Alison Beach
Pagosa Peak Open School

Looking for something fun to do this summer? Swing by the charter school and catch a movie in your car. It’s the perfect social distancing night out.

Pagosa Peak Open School is proud to present Car Hop Movie Nights. All summer long, we will host showings in the style of a drive-in in our parking lot at 7 Parelli Way. Movie showings are on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday nights starting at 8:30 p.m. (or dusk). Entrance is by donation. Concessions will be available for purchase.

Email for movie information,showtimes and to reserve your spot. 

All donations from Car Hop Movie Nights will benefit the school’s capital campaign for building renovations. Pagosa Peak Open School is a tuition-free,public charter school serving Archuleta County dedicated to creating a community of empowered lifelong learners by providing a multiage learning environment designed to foster confidence, high academic achievement and the joy of learning through original and meaningful work.