Ken Hartke

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I'm retired and living solo "out west" in the New Mexico desert. I've been an observer and blogger for years and usually have four or five blogs going but wrote for myself or for friends. A lot of it was travel stories or daily random postings -- but it was a good experience. Red Room allowed me to share things on a wider scale and with its demise, I (maybe) found a more public voice.

To The Lady Who Put Roses Out

 

It was a quiet day on a quiet street.

 

It seems like it was one of those family holidays;

 

Maybe Father’s Day or Mother’s Day… I don’t recall.

 

It was a good day for a walk.

 

 

 

We took our time, talking along the way.

 

We were not walking for distance or speed.

 

The old sidewalk was cracked and uneven…

 

Sort of the way life is.

 

 

 

We watched our step.  You remember that

 

old saying about stepping on a crack?

 

There was a nice breeze off the river.

 

Birds were rejoicing in the trees.

 

 

 

We heard the wind in the big trees in

 

the old cemetery.  It was well kept.

 

People cared about cemeteries here.

 

So do the squirrels…policing the rows.

 

 

 

One block. Two blocks. Three…four.

 

The houses were perched high on each side

 

with sloping yards and low stone walls.

 

Middle-aged houses – nothing grand.

 

 

 

There ahead, on a low cobbled wall,

 

sat a small painted bucket of cut red roses.

 

“Please take one” the penciled sign said.

 

She took one. “How nice” he said.

 

 

 

We continued another few blocks…

 

Stopped for coffee and then doubled back.

 

The roses were still there but fewer, now.

 

Other walkers must have read the sign.

 

 

 

Like a pebble in a pond, this

 

simple act of sharing rippled through

 

the lives of people she never met

 

but cared about from a distance.

 

Recent Comments
Sue Martin Glasco
Such a pleasant walk I just took. And I loved the rose. It smells so sweet. I really liked this poem, Ken. It brought back mem... Read More
Saturday, 27 February 2016 05:02
Monika Schott
Lovely, gentle words, Ken. I'd love to chance upon a bucket of roses for sharing on a walk one day. M.
Saturday, 27 February 2016 07:28
Rosy Cole
This is beautiful, Ken. A poem...I want to say...that shares the oxygen of simplicity. Such instances, as Sue shows, too, are clea... Read More
Saturday, 27 February 2016 13:10
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Ghost Birds

 

Here they come again...heading north....primeval, ancient wanderers. This morning's flight was the first group I've seen this year...actually heard because they are so high you can't really make them out. Their croaking call seems to come from nowhere and everywhere at the same time. They seem early but we are already into the 70s each day. They must leave Bosque del Apache at dawn and make it here north of Albuquerque by 10:30. They might make it to Colorado by sunset if they can get over the mountains.

 

 

High cranes 2

 

Cranes, lost to our sight

 

in the sun drenched sky above,

 

call out sad farewells.


high cranes

 

They'll be back next fall

 

to do it all once again.

 

The bosque awaits.

 

 

Recent Comments
Katherine Gregor
Wonderful feat of Nature. I've never seen a crane. Here in Norwich, we're very luck to see murmurations of starlings every after... Read More
Sunday, 21 February 2016 12:30
Stephen Evans
Beautiful. - so graceful.
Sunday, 21 February 2016 16:10
Ken Hartke
Thanks for the comments. The cranes, when in a large flock, transcend time...they have been doing this for eons. They are like di... Read More
Sunday, 21 February 2016 16:49
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So Now Comes The Wind


So now comes the wind —
our winter’s downhill neighbor
testing the hinges.


From beyond, somewhere
in a distant mountain place,
it comes to life.


It finds its power —
it scours the dead and dying —
it tries to take you.


But you bow your head.
You divert your swollen eyes.
It passes over.


A born acrobat,
Tumbleweed pulls up her skirts
and scatters her seeds.


It takes what it wants
leaving man and beast behind
tumbling into spring.

 

Recent Comments
Former Member
Ken, Is this yours? I remember those New Mexico sand storms and how they could come out of nowhere -- a peaceful day and suddenl... Read More
Saturday, 06 February 2016 18:21
Ken Hartke
Yeah Charlie ...these little poems pop out of my head every now and then. Everything here inspires me to write much more than befo... Read More
Sunday, 07 February 2016 00:29
Former Member
It didn't seem to do D.H. Lawrence any harm. -- C
Sunday, 07 February 2016 08:25
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9 Comments

In Praise of Old Hotels - Part 11: Grand Canyon

 

I was recently on a week-long vacation to Flagstaff, Arizona as a pre-Christmas holiday. I've discovered that I enjoy going places in mid-winter when everyone is in pretty good spirits. I've always wanted to see the Grand Canyon in winter so I took this opportunity to schedule a vacation within a vacation and spend a couple days on the South Rim. I booked a night in Bright Angel Lodge in a cabin positioned close to the canyon rim.

The Canyon is not crowded in mid-December. It was cold and snowy and there were a few hardy winter back-packers and a couple dozen Chinese tourists and a few others. I have always been to the Grand Canyon in warmer weather with hordes of people. This seemed almost empty by comparison.

The drive up from Flagstaff is only about two hours. I took my time and stopped at some Indian pueblo ruins and at a few spots along the Little Colorado River gorge. We had snow the previous day and it was a pretty drive with very few other cars. I entered the National Park at the east entrance and stopped along the rim drive at several places to take pictures. I got to Bright Angel Lodge around 4 PM.

Bright Angel Lodge

 

BA_Hotel_1910The Grand Canyon became a national park in 1919 but there had already been a great deal of activity and tourist development prior to the park's existence. Individual developers and entrepreneurs had lodging and tour businesses but it was quite rustic. The original Bright Angel Hotel and camp was built around 1900 as a mix of tent and rustic log-cabin hotel accommodations. Ownership passed through a several hands until the Grand Canyon Railroad acquired the property along the south rim of the canyon. Tourism was picking up and in 1905 the railroad constructed the sprawling El Tovar Hotel operated by the Fred Harvey hotel chain.   The rustic Bright Angel Hotel operation, upgraded to cabins instead of tents,  continued after the National Park was established with the El Tovar Hotel serving as the primary grand hotel at the canyon.

The Santa Fe Railway, owner of the Grand Canyon Railroad,  wanted quality lodging for the visitors to the park and saw the need for improvement at the Bright Angel operation. The railroad was already heavily engaged with Fred Harvey beginning in 1876 when he opened his first railroad restaurant in Topeka. There were Harvey Hotels scattered along the railroad's major passenger routes in the west.  In 1930 the railroad teamed up with Harvey and Harvey's architect, Mary Colter, to replace the aging Bright Angel Hotel with a new Harvey-run hotel to be called the Bright Angel Lodge.  Colter had already built two Grand Canyon concession facilities:  Hopi House in 1905 and Hermit's Rest in 1914.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Colter's first proposed design was for a large stone structure but Harvey and the railroad opted for a more rustic stone and timber lodge. The main lodge building, completed in 1935, is an impressive re-thinking of the original rustic hotel.  Like the original, it is perched on the rim of the canyon and equipped with large stone fireplaces and log cabin style sections interspersed with rough stone walls.

The interior is styled as a mountain hunting lodge with large fireplaces and a soaring vaulted ceiling of timbers. The "Bright Angel" is the Thunderbird image over the main fireplace. There is a second large fireplace in what is now the History Room that is constructed with the same sequence of stone that one would find in the stone layers of the canyon.

The restaurant has been modernized but you can still see Colter's design in the rough log wall decorations and the ceiling beams. Earlier pictures show this as dark stained wood but now it is much brighter. I ate in the main restaurant (there are two) and the food was good and unusually expensive.  I had trout for dinner and my breakfast was a typical sausage and eggs. This was not fast food...plan to stay a while. There were guests at breakfast who were unhappy with the service and the food but mine was fine...just slow.

I also took advantage of the bar and had a couple beers during happy hour. Selection was limited but okay. It was a cold day and there was a constant stream of guests looking for coffee or hot chocolate. Unfortunately the hot chocolate machine broke down earlier in the day. I could have made a killing with a hot chocolate concession. I suspect that the hotel staff might be somewhat reduced in winter months and service is slower.

The Cabins, where I stayed,  were also designed by Mary Colter and are perched along the canyon rim or scattered to the west of the main lodge. These are a mix of semi-attached and stand-alone structures.

I stayed in a "partial view" cabin which is maybe fifty feet from the rim and has a nice view of the canyon. Most of the cabins do not have a canyon view. In mid-winter I would recommend sweaters and warm clothes if you stay in a cabin. There were a few cabins with fireplaces but mine had baseboard heat and was a little chilly. Considering that the cabins are eighty years old they are comfortable and in good condition. They are not as rustic on the inside as they appear from the outside. 

 

 

El Tovar Hotel

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Besides Bright Angel Lodge there are plenty of other accommodations close by. El Tovar Hotel, constructed in 1905, is the grandest hotel in the park. You can imagine hotel guests arriving in stage coaches from the railroad station and being greeted by the "Harvey Girls". I didn't stay there but roamed around the lobby and the large sitting porches that look out over the canyon or the front approaches where the carriages or touring cars would have pulled up. In warmer weather that's where I would be.

There are modern hotel and motel accommodations as well. The Thunderbird Lodge offers another option close to the canyon rim and it is located between El Tovar and Bright Angel Lodge. None of the canyon rim lodging options are inexpensive but there is no other place quite like this so you end up paying a premium price.

 

Thunderbird

 

 *     *     *

 

 

 

Recent Comments
Katherine Gregor
Thanks for taking us along with you. I like your hotel descriptions.
Friday, 29 January 2016 07:15
Former Member
I no longer post on the site but I check in from time to time and always look for reports of your travels and observations. I miss... Read More
Saturday, 30 January 2016 21:07
Ken Hartke
Well -- I'm always glad to have you along for the ride.
Saturday, 30 January 2016 22:39
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3 Comments

Latest Comments

Ken Hartke Sofia's Bakery
20 May 2018
Thanks, Rosy, -- glad you liked it.
Ken Hartke I Promise
20 May 2018
I am so looking forward to your return -- I love your writing and wish you well. From my youth I've...
Stephen Evans I Promise
20 May 2018
Sometimes when I am dealing with deep anxiety I find that work (by which I mean writing), and the f...
Rosy Cole Sofia's Bakery
20 May 2018
I just love this, Ken. As appealing to the senses as a painting. Thanks :-)

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