Peregrinations: Colorado Springs 2

July 3, 2015 • 12:00 pm

Tuesday I spent a nice day in Colorado Springs with reader Stephen Q. Muth, who happens to own Butter, a flame-point Himalayan rescue cat whom we featured before (be sure to click the link). They are very close, and indeed, Butter, who looks like the epitome of a curmudgeonly cat, is a very sweet and affectionate animal. So let me start with a few pictures of Stephen and Butter:

Butter getting fusses: despite his expression, he really does enjoy them!

Butter and Stephen

Butter having a nap. He always looks either affronted or ticked off.

Butter 1

Butter doesn’t get to go outside but he sits at the screened front door and gazes out:

Butter 2

And sometimes he looks diabolical:

Butter, diabolical

Stephen has a collection of art objects that someone sent him for safekeeping. Here’s he’s holding what is said to be a piece of Saddam Hussein’s palace after it was ransacked. He uses the decoration as a doorstop.

Muth architecture

I put up the following three photos so that readers might help identify this object. It’s an old print, and clearly a print from Albrecht Dürer, as the “AD” signature at top left clearly shows. I’m not sure how old the print is, or whether it has any value, but I added the printer’s notation and embossing below it so that any readers with art expertise could tell us something about it:

Durer 1

Bottom right of the print, clearly showing a French origin:

Durer 2

The embossing on the paper, which implies it was produced by a French museum. Perhaps it’s just a largely worthless reproduction, but I’m not sure:

Durer 3

We headed downtown for lunch. Along the way you get this view of the famous Pike’s Peak  (el. 14,115 feet or 4,302 meters), with the main street running right toward it. This was done deliberately when the city was laid out. You can take the expensive cog railway up to the top, or even drive to the summit. The descent by car has ruined many a person’s brakes.

Pike's peak

Lunch: a delicious green chile cheesburger at a local diner. The two burger patties are topped with a slew of chile-laden meat stew and cheese:

Cheeseburger

We then visited Manitou Springs, a touristy area adjacent to Colorado Springs, where one can (for $75!) take the cog railway up to the top of Pike’s Peak. The springs aren’t really really a spa, but a pool of underground water that can be tapped, and comes out of drinking fountains like the one below.  The water is truly delicious: slightly carbonated and full of minerals like calcium. We filled a bottle and sipped on it throughout the day, but many people come and fill gallon jugs with the stuff.

Manitou Springs is now completely overrun with kitschy stores, ice-cream stands, pizza joints, and even a hemp store where you can buy “marijuana” shirts, but the one good feature of the town is an old arcade with the kind of mechanical games and pinball machines that we had when I was a kid. I didn’t photograph it, but it’s a trip back in time, and well worth visiting.

Water

We saw a deer just a block away from the water fountain. Colorado Springs and its environs, like much of Colorado, is full of deer. While driving to Aspen, a deer dashed in front of my car on a busy road, and I was very upset. I didn’t hit it, but it failed to jump the barrier between the lanes and fell into the road. Fortunately, it righted itself and crossed the highway safely, but it was a close call. I can see why I saw so many roadkill deer on my trip from South Dakota to here. One would think that natural selection would endow these animals with a strong aversion to asphalt!

Deer

Since the sale and consumption of marijuana is now legal in Colorado, and the stuff is sold widely, I asked Stephen to show me where it was sold. It turns out that it’s sold in three kinds of places. The first two are called “dispensaries,” and are recognized by their having a green cross (emphasizing the medical benefits). Some dispensaries sell only to those who are prescribed marijuana for its therapeutic effects on various conditions (there is no shortage of doctors willing, for a fee, to certify you), while other dispensaries sell both medical marijuana and recreational marijuana—the latter at a higher price.

This is an example of a rather unprepossessing dispensary. There is not much identifying signage save for the green crosses.

Dispensary cheap

Below is a more famous dispensary selling marijuana and its derivatives for both recreational and medical use. We asked to visit, not trying to buy anything, and, after ID checks (they take your drivers’ license), they let us visit the “bud room”, which I wasn’t allowed to photograph.

Dispensary fancy

A close-up of the sign showing what they sell: “MJ” (marijuana, of course, known to us in college as “Mary Jane”).

P1080364

Below are the state rules for purchase and consumption of marijuana that they hand you when you visit. Note the reference to the many kinds of products that has marijuana or its deriviatives in it. We saw not only samples of the different kinds of dried plant, but elixers (liquid flavored substances that you put into your mouth with a dropper bottle), pressurized “delivery systems,” cookies, lollipops, and waxes and “shatter,” new and very powerful extracts of the active substance THC. We didn’t sample any, but I’m told that these new forms of marijuana, as well as the various new types of extracts, are extremely powerful!

Dispensary rules

Below is an old-time garage that, because it was decorated with crosses, could have been mistaken for a dispensary (granted, dispensary crosses are green, but desperate stoners might not make that distinction). Notice the sign on the wall: “Private Property. Not a dispensary.”

Dispensary fake

This, the third class of marijuana vendor, is what’s known as a “speakeasy,” where people go to smoke dope in congenial settings (we peeked in the door: it’s kind of a lounge with carpets and leather couches). They also sell various forms of dope that you can smoke on the premises (I’m not sure about the legality of all this, but I guess it’s okay).

Speakeasy

Here’s a close-up of the sign. I love the phrase, “Where everybody knows your strain!”. That, of course, is a take-off on the old television show Cheers, about a Boston bar “where everybody knows your name.”

P1080372

I left early for the four-hour drive to Aspen over the Rockies. On the way you cross Independence Pass (12,095 ft, 3,687 meters), one of the highest paved roads in the US. It’s also astride the Continental Divide: waters to the east of the Divide flow into either the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic, those on the west to the Pacific. The beauty of the drive was stunning, though I failed to see the pronghorns and bison that sometimes show up along the route.

Rockies

35 thoughts on “Peregrinations: Colorado Springs 2

  1. What a gorgeous cat, Stephen! I adore the look on his face!

    As always, the food sounds delicious, and the scenery is lovely.

    Am I remembering correctly? Is this the home town of Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman? I loved that show when I was younger.

    1. I forgot about that show. That’s right, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman was supposed to have been set in Colorado Springs. It’s kind-of telling that we pretty much sent Tesla packing for blowing up our power plant (after he redesigned it to be more efficient) — I kind of doubt the local residents of 20-30 years earlier would’ve taken kindly to a “medicine woman”. 🙂

  2. As a Co native thought i would point out some corrections. Fort Collins is a long way north of Manitou Springs.

    Have never seen pronghorns and bison up near the mountain passes. They are plains animals. Elk and moose – yes.

    1. I did pass on some corrections to PCC — I suspect he’s in the middle of sessions / interview, and will get to the corrections on the by-and-by. The reference to bison has to do with South Park. Jerry went through South Park / Buena Vista, where there are still some (domestic) bison to be seen, I hope. I know there was a rather vicious incident out there in 2008. Those weren’t “hunters”, as stated in that news blip, but rather some local Indian mercenary types, illegally hired to do the deed.

      A more uplifting piece from 2003 about the herd. When I look for them, some are usually just south of Buena Vista. (NW of Hartsel)

  3. I just checked with my better half… that Albrecht Dürer is a (probably 19th century) “restrike”, obtained in Nice. (restrikes are made from original plates). Pieces like this are worth maybe $40 USD or so, but are difficult to find on online markets.

    The Saddam brick turns out to be from one of his lesser residences (not his main palace). It almost ended up in a New Mexico landfill, but my better half checked with the person who ferreted it out of Iraq (on a C-130), who told her to save it — because said person spent a night in jail over it. 🙂

  4. What a beautiful place to live, Stephen!

    Butter looks as superior as ever–even for a cat! Hard to believe he was ever a rescue.

    I think I’m gonna like this decriminalization of pot better when it becomes more normal, less sensationalized. If it ever does, in the US…I guess I’m old.

    1. Me too, re: the pot. What bugs me is that the main advantage of decriminalization (I thought) was that it would pull the rug out from under the Mexican cartels. Recreational prices have been jacked WAY up though, because of something like a %25-%27 (I forget) tax on anything cannabinoid. I’m still not sure if there have been negative impacts on the cartels, but continue to keep an eye on any of the indirect indicators I (or my spies) can think of.

      1. You are so right! (As always.) Looks like capitalism’s gonna have to work its wonders and bring down the price; which means legalization is going to have to be far more universal w/in the US so competition takes hold. Which doesn’t exactly seem imminent.

        Or maybe the R’s will realize that its our drug policies that are making life difficult down south and causing migrants to stream northward.

        I’m guessing that doesn’t need a sarcasm tag. 😀

        1. A little birdie has told me — regarding cartels vs legalized CO dope, that the hip and wealthy of Mexico are now “importing” (smuggling) Colorado weed. Not sure exactly how this affects cartels (I’d be guessing), but I thought you might find it pretty funny that the trafficking direction did a 180-degree shift.

  5. “One would think that natural selection would endow these animals with a strong aversion to asphalt!”

    Lately I’ve wondered whether something like that might be happening. Here in central New York state we have an excess of deer. Only in the past few years I’ve seen one back up to avoid traffic and several times seen them wait for traffic to clear before entering the road. I’ve been driving for 50 years here, and never saw such behavior till recently. Previously they would either try to “outrun” your vehicle (cross as if you were going no faster than they were) or freeze in your headlights.

  6. You must have passed very near the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument! Eocene redwoods and amazing arthropod (and some vertebrate) fossils. Maybe next time!

  7. I am no expert, but instinct tells me that it could be a French printer who used the original Dürer woodcut or adapted it – it could be a 19th century French adaptation of this print which is an etching by Armand Durand (1831 – 1905). Note that both Albrecht and Armand share the same initials!

    The embossed museum seal, in my mind, is a mark showing that the print belongs or once belonged to the museum.

    1. Interesting. I did a little more looking, and found an online reference to this piece, apparently called Madonna and Child on a Grassy Bench.

      If I’m understanding this properly (and given this was obtained >25 years ago in Nice, France in a store that specialized in 200 year-old restrikes), this piece would have been made from a woodcut from Durer’s shop, made by Hans Baldung Grien, then a close friend and shopmate of Durer.

    2. I believe you must be an expert, Vierotchka. I compared the online image I posted above very carefully with what we have. There are indeed lines missing on our print – and much appears to be “cleaned up”, i.e. re-worked. (esp the foliage 1/2 the way down, left side). My better half says she’s not completely sure, but seems to remember the shop in Nice telling her the piece was from the Louvre’s holdings originally.

    3. From my better half…
      ————
      What I have found today, so far, is that the Louvre had, and still has, a print shop where you can order high quality copies of their collections. Pequegnot was a master printer who worked in the shop in the 19th C and did this print from the original block. It is normal for late restrikes to be a bit different because the wood wears down after a lot of pressing. Or, he decided to not press so hard in those spots because the ink was not transferring well. There would be no reason to fake a Louvre embossing mark because the restrikes were never worth much.
      ————
      So it seems my uneducated guess could be wrong, and that the missing lines come from the way it was pressed, possibly.

  8. Oh, deer! =D

    One would think that natural selection would endow these animals with a strong aversion to asphalt!

    They probably have like the deers here in Sweden, but the roads cut off their grounds.

    I think I mentioned how we are trying “animal pass” broad bridges over the largest roads (as well as tunnels for smaller animals), but I haven’t checked on how they turned out.

    medical marijuana

    US got a problem with those kinds of scams too!? At least the local psychology profession have started to raise its voice about making the divide clear between evidence based medicine and the rest. But we can still have a doctor prescribe acupuncture (say) and get some reduced rates by the ordination. :-/

    “The medicinal value of cannabis is disputed. The American Society of Addiction Medicine dismisses medical use because of concerns about dependence and adverse health effects.[27] The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that cannabis is associated with numerous harmful health effects, and that significant aspects such as content, production, and supply are unregulated. The FDA approves of the prescription of two products (not for smoking) that have pure THC in a small controlled dose as the active substance.[28]”

    [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabis_(drug)#Medical ]

    Oy vey.

    1. I did point out how this town is now overrun with quackopractors and reikimeisters and other hucksters who will “diagnose” people to get them on the medical marijuana registry. (usually for bad backs or other ailments like migraines or other chronic conditions).

      What I do know is only at the moment a steady accumulation of anecdotal evidence. More and more I hear reports of cancer patients (including a few very close to me) who report instantaneous relief of nausea and restoration of appetite — and considering the ridiculous prices of the latest, supposedly most-effective pharmaceuticals in this country, it is no surprise to me that patients will opt for the medical marijuana (edible) route first. (no matter if the LATEST pharmaceuticals have been found to be slightly better than the edibles. The pharmaceuticals will take you to the cleaners in this country; and their positive action will be more than offset, when the patient pukes their guts out after seeing their medical bills.

      1. FWIW, even a steady accumulation of anecdotes doesn’t help. That is how we got “hysterics” in the 19th century, a phenomena that disappeared a few decades later. If someone could be, as Jerry says, “arsed” to do double blind tests…

        1. I agree — hopefully the climate of decriminalization helps counter the biases inherent in the shoddy epidemiology we have practiced to date. (this is how we got rather silly admonitions against egg yolks & people switching from butter to [yech] margerine & Olean [with only %17 more anal leakage than the next leading brand]). The anti-nausea properties of THC products are very well-known though. The question is not whether these properties exist, at this point — it is more a question of how well they are dosage-controlled, or if better solutions exist. (for the money, they don’t exist here yet)

        2. You may be interested to see this compilation, admittedly not exhaustive, but supposedly done in good faith to try to be. Check out the one that say “double-blind” (in yellow highlight, lower right of each box). The “cons” always involve tying to use it for treatment of spasticity for MS, Parkinson, ALS, etc. One other thing to keep in mind is that the FDA is a regulatory (and punitive) arm f the government, heavily invested in the status quo & headed up by political appointees. Their appointed ones will essentially cherry-pick what they can to keep in line with the pronouncements of the drug interdiction arm. Going to them for the latest pronouncements on evidence-based research is like going to the head of the National Institute of Health in this country for his pronouncements on whether there is good reason to believe Jesus ever existed. It really is that bad. http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000884

  9. Thanks for the entertaining post.

    I lived in Cheyenne, WY for 9 years, so am familiar with many of the Colorado scenic sites. Everything is flat in Eastern Wyoming, so Colorado is where we went for mountainous adventures…though the Rockies go through WY, they aren’t as majestic with little infrastructure. Fine if you want to rough it, but we don’t camp like that. When I was 12, I was forced to go to a Christian camp in Colorado Springs run by the Navigators. (I think my folks were starting to see that I wasn’t buying the Jebus thing.) The Navigators are missionary Jesus freaks galore. I got some serious indoctrination there. Surrounded with all that crap in the boonies, you can’t escape it! Obviously, none of it worked.

    Washington (where I reside) is more regulated than Colorado when it comes to legalized pot. Can’t buy edibles unless you have a prescription is one difference. Also, I don’t think Speak Easies are allowed. And the dispensaries are few and far between. At least it’s legal though so I’m not complaining.

    I like butter…that cat made me smile.

  10. If it is a vape lounge then the speakeasy is probably using vaporizers rather than smoking it. When you vape pot you use an electric device to aeresol-ize the active ingredient while inhaling. It doesn’t produce the smoke that might affect others.

    On a side note, I’ve been encouraging a co-worker who smokes cigarettes to instead use a vaporizer for his nicotine high; as that would be less damaging to his health.

    1. It’s pretty much a mixed bag (literally) in places termed “vape” lounges here. These are really merely “members” get-together places for socializing, listening to music, providing venues for area musicians and DJs (not to be confused with musicians). And, upon general agreement, a place with which to pass around any kind of weed (not sell it) with impunity.

      People caught selling/buying by other members or staff typically get the cops called on them. So people bring their own if they want, or they “trade” points on local credit-card-like devices, which are used to buy anything (usually coffee, water, sodas… these places don’t sell alcohol). It’s done this way, because the locals couldn’t muster up the votes to keep the Repugs out of City Council, so the Municipality of Colorado Springs still prohibits sales. They keep it legal by not letting any of their “donated” wares leave the premises, and not trading money directly for weed, but rather using an intermediary service (like http://www.fivestars.com/).

      The place Jerry was standing in front of is actually a couple feet from the Colorado Springs city line, towards Manitou (where recreational sales are not prohibited, it being hippytown).

      So, in short… “vape” lounges will typically look like this. They are electric devices as can be seen, they make vapor… but not your grandmas, nice lung-friendly vapor by any shot. This contrasts very highly from “vape pens”. The latter is a Honda Civic, and the former is a Mac truck.

  11. Re the print–the plate mark indicates that it is an engraving; i. e. a print made by incising the image into a metal plate, then inking the plate and running it through a press. The paper is pressed into the incisions on the plate, so the inked portions in the finished print are raised above the rest of the paper (paper money is printed this way–run your fingernail over a dollar bill to feel the inked lines). Your print is an engraved copy of a Durer woodcut; woodcuts don’t have plate marks.

    1. My smarter and prettier half says you are surely right: “the impression edges are a well-known fact about engravings”. She looked up the printer’s shop at the Louvre. I’m just having a look now…

      from a Google translation (I’m Franco-illiterate):

      The printer then has on the press plate the engraved plate and the sheet of paper. Diapers thick and collapsible placed on the upper cylinder -feutres soften the strong pressure exerted by the machine. By mechanical or electrical action, the plate moves and passes copper sheet and diapers in the upper cylinder of the press. This leaves deep marks paper (called shot board) the edges of the copper.

      Kind-of strange that the French were using diapers for this process. I suppose they didn’t know what diapers were made for, but if it works, why not?

      Seriously, though… my darling says:

      It says that Pequegnot, who signed our print, was the author of more than 2000 prints from the collections. So, I assume, now, that he would work from the original and make a copy in 18th (perhaps she meant to say 19th?) century lithography or engraving. He may have had a technique to copy, like with tracing paper or wax, because he had such a huge output of prints.

  12. “It’s a plant. This isn’t about getting stoned, it’s about the anti-epileptic properties.”
    A mother and her family pleading for the NZ government to allow their son to be treated with cannabis oil.
    The young man, Alex was in ‘status epilepticus’, a kind of prolonged seizure. Sadly he has since died but the Government did allow them to import. Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne approved the one-off use of Elixinol, a cannabidiol (CBD) product from the United States for treating him, to my amazement I might add.
    I am in the camp of all drugs should be decriminalized but in the meantime I am enjoying the Professors travels, meeting his hosts and scenery.

  13. Butter is a lovely cat!

    The old arcade games at Manitou Springs are quite fun, especially the pinball and skeeball. The decorative pieces on the water fountain look Van Briggle-influenced; I have family members who collect Van Briggle pottery, along with some extremely uncomfortable furniture from the same period as the pottery’s origins.

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