Pansies on the West Fork
I really like this picture. That’s my dad on the left, Mike Hall on the right, and me in the middle again. My dad used to be taller than me but now I’m shorter than he used to be.
The photo was taken at the West Fork Cabin Camp that was operated by Gary and Linda Evans – good friends of my parents. Mike and I owned the Hall & Fenn Real Estate Company in Santa Fe.
If the log building in the background were to disappear you might see the West Fork of the Madison River confluencing with the Madison River. That’s where it is.
Out of the photo, there on the close right is where my mom had a pansy garden that she planted and tenderly tended each summer day. She died while sitting in their Airstream motor home just 10’ north of this photo. A tall pine tree guarded her pansies. The flowers are gone now, and so is my dad. It would be kind of like a toast-of-thanks if I could go there next summer and pour warm water on roots of that pine tree. But I don’t even know if it’s still there.
You can’t see the Madison River either, but it’s just 20’ behind the two pine trees on the right in this picture. My parents could hear the ripples rippling at night as the water worked its way downstream toward Ennis Lake, not too many miles away.
Mike and I were on our way to the 1st annual Charlie Russell Riders fest-out on the Sun River in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area. It was an annual event, and still is. The fishing was good, but I didn’t go back again because there were too many people, too much talking, too much drinking, too much eating, and too much of several other things I didn’t much care for.
One of the things I remember about that trip was Bob Dunn’s horse kicking a hornet’s nest. I’m sure Bob remembers it too, and I hope his face has recovered.
Coming home we had to stay under the clouds between Denver and Santa Fe because I didn’t have an IFR clearance. The clouds kept getting lower and lower and the mountains kept getting higher and higher. And many of the clouds had mountains in them.
After a while we found ourselves cruising generally south and lost. That was before GPS and all of the radio navaids were hiding behind mountains where my antennas couldn’t see them.
Finally, we saw the Great Sand Dunes National Park, which contained 5,000,000,000 cubic meters of sand, so we knew we were near Alamosa, Colorado. I flew a few miles west to highway 285 and let almost all the way down. We were pulling up to clear telephone poles and a few small towns.
Landing on runway 20 at Santa Fe was almost straight in and easy. The FAA tower operators wanted to know how we made that flight without getting in the clouds. I told them I was magic. They couldn’t prove what they couldn’t see and I wasn’t going to tell the rest of the story. f