In Colorado, one is able to plate their car from a large selection of license plates. From wildlife to outdoor sports to military recognition to the Denver Broncos or Colorado Rockies. Other specialty plates are available like antique cars, street rods and collector vehicles. Certain requirements, though, must be fulfilled with many of the specialty plates prior to receiving one.

During the 2016 session, the state legislature overhauled the license plate statute. A specialty plate would need to have 3,000 plates issued every year to avoid “retirement“. Those plates not meeting the new threshold, the sponsoring groups were notified the plates they support would be retired in 2017.

Colorado Pioneer license plate
image courtesy of Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles

One of the more popular specialty plates is the Pioneer license plate. Previously, an applicant needed to provide documentary proof indicating they were a descendant of a Colorado settler. Understanding the difficulty in gathering documents, the standard was relaxed. Providing proof would no longer be required; payment of the $50 set-up fee would be the only requirement. The relaxed requirement has not lead to a sudden uptick in Pioneer plates seen on the road.

When my dad traded his venerable 1978 Buick LeSabre Custom for a newer model car, I suggested he choose a specialty plate over the standard Colorado green and white. He would have a much larger selection than most applicants – US Army, Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Korean War Veteran, Vietnam Veteran and Pioneer. Dad seemed not to be interested much by a specialty plate. He chose the Pioneer plate when he registered his car today. Dad said he liked how it looked on my Expedition.


Election Day

“A day of decision,” intoned the local newscaster, “but, first, a check of the weather.”

Before the mail-in ballot, weather on election day varied considerably. Indian summer-like weather in certain years, cold and blustery in others, and a few on the wintry side. Today, nice but warm clothing required.

Colorado blue skies

The mail-in ballot has largely made the weather a non-factor. If you did not want to spend the 85 cents in postage to mail back your ballot, polling centers have been set-up to collect completed ballots. For those who have difficulty in marking their ballots, the county does have touchscreen voting machines at a pair of their major polling centers. While a few have groused about ballot security or an illegally cast ballot, vote fraud has been exceedingly rare statewide.

The Ballot

Of the races for an elected office, fortunately we’ve been spared from having white-hot, contentious ones. Just the standard mudslinging kind. If there is one thing that unites everyone across the political spectrum, it’s the ending of the incessant stream of political ads. There have been a few instances of political ads running after the polls have closed on election night; one time, the day after the election.

before the ballot:  a late night, margarita pick ’em session on paper

Half of the ballot are the various initiatives, some from the state legislature, some from petition. The “blue book” explains the various statewide initiatives – the fine-print initiative language, pros and cons, and an impact analysis (the dollar cost or savings). We largely pass on reading the blue book. The same goes for the voting guide on local initiatives, which are largely tax and bonding issues.

What has made voting on initiatives easier is the language simplification. A “yes” vote means a vote in favor an initiative, a “no” vote means a vote against an initiative. While the language used is more straightforward, at times it has muddled the aim of an initiative. Two years ago, an amendment that would have banned slavery in all forms and circumstances, including those who have been incarcerated, failed. Another amendment to ban slavery has made it onto the ballot. The language is cleaner and straight to the point – all forms of slavery are banned.

The Trump Effect

The less said, the better. Simply, he’s unfit to be president. He would also make for a poor dogcatcher, if that is an elective office anywhere.


To our friends across America, please do vote. Making a difference, being that difference, matters. Though elections are mostly decided by more than one vote, there have been instances in which a coin flip, a hi-lo card draw, or a straw drawing has decided an election. Don’t let the race you care about be the one to be decided that way.

Colorado In Fall: The Cattle Round Up

The colors. Beautiful, sunny days. Cold nights. Frost on the pumpkin. Colorado in fall cannot be any better.

The JN Ranch, our neighbor, it is their fall cattle round-up time. It is moving their herd back from the summer grazing ranges in the mountains, on BLM land, back to the mid-range and winter range on the ranch property. Preparing for the round-up begins in earnest, in early September. The largest piece of the preparatory work is establishing an accurate count and location of their stock. Drone technology and tracking technology have made the round-up a much easier task than before. The round-up, though, is weather-driven. Private weather forecasting has greatly aided of knowing when to move the herd with minimal impact from the weather.

into the fog: the Norris family leaving for the round-up (JN Ranch, Oct 08 2018)
photo credit: Julie Norris – camera: Galaxy Note 8

Their gear ready, the Norris family began their round-up last Monday. The low clouds and misty conditions didn’t make for ideal weather. Yet, the cool temperatures and general dampness weren’t too uncomfortable. Neither the long hours on the saddle become uncomfortable. It is their way of life, a life they love and respect.

With 517 head to bring home, the herd was divided in half. It made the cattle easier to manage on the trail, and added flexibility to the schedule and the 10-14 days earmarked to complete the round-up.

on point: Amanda riding ahead of the herd on a BLM service trail in the mountains above JN Ranch (Oct 10 2018)
photo credit: Amanda Norris – camera: Galaxy Note 8

A dense fog and intermittent rain/snow mix for two days slowed the pace of the first half of the round-up. Yet, they arrived with 225 head of the herd at the mid-range, on Friday, as planned. Comprised mostly of black angus cattle, they were no worse for wear. The same could be said about the Norris family members, but Amanda said she needed a long, hot shower before heading back for the second half of the round-up.

black angus cattle: arriving home on the mid-range (JN Ranch, Oct 12 2018)
photo credit: Amanda Norris – camera: Galaxy Note 8

The second half of the round-up is expected to arrive on the mid-range this coming weekend. Except for cold mornings, and one day of snow flurries, the pace of the round-up has remained on schedule. Once the remaining head arrive, mostly white-faced heifers, another count will be conducted.

Next week, it’ll be a check for strays, and count again. Once the final count is completed, the fall round-up will be over.

Photo credit
Many thanks to Julie and Amanda Norris for their photos. It is very much appreciated.

A Quiet September

… and, not by design.

The month slipped by quietly, with October beginning today. The girls, immersed in their studies while staying sharp with their riding, are taking aim at the Las Vegas Nationals in mid-November. The always busy Laurie and Andrea, busy. Except for a pair of early starts, no one required their special talents in the middle of the night. For myself, a few work projects. One project is on hold pending the arrival of a new printer. My existing HP OfficeJet printer gave out last week, unable to lift a sheet of paper to be fed into the printhead interface. It gave nine years of flawless service.

Similarly, fall began quietly. No chill winds, no large temperature swings, and most importantly, no surprise snow. While the fall colors have gone past their peak in the high country, they are slowly beginning here in the lower elevations. Autumn gold should take hold around mid-month, mostly from cottonwoods and elms. Reds and oranges will mostly come from scrub oak, poison oak and poison sumac.

the fall colors in the old neighborhood (October 2017)

dulled color: gray skies and low clouds

A dull gray, not the best color to begin a new month. Rain, only a slight possibility, from the remnants of Hurricane Rosa. While the overcast gives the impression of cooler temperatures, it has been in the mid-70s for most of the day. Very pleasant. Better yet, not many flying insects hanging by the barn.

In the forecast: Brighter, warmer days. Cool overnights.

Il Cielo Romanza

by Tara Scott Westin

I colori romanza del cielo …

Uno non ha bisogno di viaggiare lontano per vederli.

About the author

Tara Scott Westin graduated, Magna Cum Laude, from the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs in May 2017 with a BS in Biology (Microbiology).

A highly decorated rider with the Rustler Riding Club, Tara has won multiple blue ribbons and other placement ribbons with her horses, Brie, Cameron and Candace (Happy Girl). In 2006, she was named Comeback Rider of the Year – the only non-competitor rider in Rustler Riding Club history to win this award.

Christmas Eve

A maze of boxes and furniture is all about the house. The kitties love the arrangement. It’s a playground. In place, their food and water stations, and litter boxes, of course. And, Andrea’s piano. The barn set-up is almost finished. There are certain priorities after all.

boxes and furniture: the living room maze

Tara’s temporary nightstand: a dual-purpose wooden crate

After a late breakfast, it was a day of moving around of boxes and furniture. Though most of our dinnerware, tableware and cookware remains boxed, enough is out for everyday use. The refrigerator is full, and we can make meals.

breakfast time: French toast

breakfast of champions: French toast drenched with syrup and a slab of butter

After dinner, it will be a crackling fire in the hearth. A few songs around the piano. A few, unexpected presents found under the tree.

later: preparing the Christmas Day checklist

To all our friends, may you have a merry and blessed Christmas!


“Colorado, everywhere I go I’m in your shadow and you’re callin’ to me
Colorado, the sun melts the snow makes the rivers flow to the sea”
from Colorado by Chuck Pyle

Elizabeth: watching the sunset (JN Ranch, Oct 25 2017)

Nothing is finer than being home.