Many moons ago, when I was knee high, my father would pack up the station wagon
load up the family, and hit the road for points west.
Our travels each year would last most of the summer and cover many many miles.
Much of those trips have been lost in the fog of the years but one memory that
survived was a night spent in the Garden of the Gods and at the Flying W Ranch.
The Flying W - a Colorado Springs institution - was a working
cattle ranch, that for the last 60 years has also worked
at preserving a bit of the old west cowboy heritage.
It was a large complex with dozens of buildings, museums, animals, wagons,
and precious artifacts from the cowboy era.
A visit to the ranch at supper time meant an authentically prepared chuck wagon
dinner, and a western show by The Wranglers, the second oldest Western singing
Group in the world.
The Wranglers play simple western standards about cattle drives,tumbleweed
and sagebrush, songs like Rawhide and Ghost Riders in the Sky,
but they are also accomplished musicians in the bluegrass arena.
During a rendition of Ghost Riders I remember a headless horseman riding past
our tables in the night with a flaming torch.
This was the type of show you could expect at the Flying W.
I looked forward to our current visit to Colorado Springs in no small part due to the
fact that I had wanted to share with Kate a trip to the Flying W.
I had planned to go there for supper last night but it was closed due to smoke
from the Waldo Canyon Fire.
Today, just as we returned from our photo taking of the aircraft fighting the fires
the wind shifted to the worst possible direction, and increased to over 60mph.
This unexpected event turned this bad fire into a monster!
The fire jumped the ridge that we had been photographing and rushed into the valley
taking out everything in its path.
I'm sad to say that tonight the Flying W and all of its buildings
burned to the ground!
As I write this the local news reports are showing images of entire neighborhoods
that are being burned. The number of homes lost will be high.
Presently over 32,000 people have been evacuated and more subdivision evacuations are
being announced right now.
The night sky to the northwest has an eerie reddish tint...
The air outside of the coach is loaded with thick smoke that irritates the eyes & throat.
Where the fuel for the flames perviously was pine trees,
the fuel is now homes.
It's a sad night in Colorado Springs.