Travel Scoops: Mongolian yak dung and cheese curds in Denver Colorado

Denver, CO, USA, May 2015

I’m learning to appreciate the smell of yak dung, which, evidently, is bluish in color and quite prevalent in Western Mongolia. After Baja encircles me with one of her arms and passes a receptacle of burning dung dust around my waist three times, she then waves toward my face wafts of the incense-like curling smoke, which actually smell more like pot than poop. It is all part of a Mongolian purifying ritual.

Baja moves the dung dust around Tsogo.

Baja moves the dung dust around Tsogo.

“We do this every morning,” says Tsogo, Baja’s artist husband whom I have come to interview for a story about his art and the burgeoning Mongolian community living in Denver, Colorado. “Before we go to work — just going to morning,” the affable artist says while gesturing widely with his arms outstretched. “Smile and the whole day is good.” He points to both corners of his broad grin that prompts his deep dimples.

The dung certainly stimulates one’s senses. I enlist my seven-year-old daughter, Kasey, for a cleansing. After all, I brought her along with me to meet the Majids and experience a taste of Mongolian culture in Colorado.

In fact, the Rocky Mountain state is home to more than 2,000 people of Mongolian heritage. Mongolian immigrants chose Denver as one of the first US destinations in which to settle in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It started with an engineering student who came to study at Colorado School of Mines in 1989 and now Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital, is a sister city to Denver. The two, both classified as “mile high cities” due to their elevations at more than 5,000 ft., share many similarities, including climate and terrain.

Photo by: Sheila Sund; https://www.flickr.com/photos/sheila_sund/

Denver, Colorado. Photo by: Sheila Sund; https://www.flickr.com/photos/sheila_sund/

Photo by: Francisco Anzola; https://www.flickr.com/photos/fran001/

Ulaanbaatar. Photo by: Francisco Anzola; https://www.flickr.com/photos/fran001/

It wasn’t until the late 1990s when Tsogo and his wife, Baja, decided to leave an economically depressed Mongolia that Colorado registered on their radar. First Tsogo checked out San Francisco, which he did not particularly like, “Too many people in one city,” he maintains. “Then my sister’s son was in Colorado and he said, ‘Tsogo, come to Denver — it’s just like Mongolia.’”

Continue reading

Advertisements

Taken down by Toddler

My new nemesis, which is actually a blue run.

My new nemesis, which is actually a blue run.

January 13, 2015; Chaffee County, Colorado

Steph, MRI looks pretty bad, see attached. We will do referral to ortho. Keep icing, elevated. Might do better on crutches if you are not already as there is a bone contusion.

This is the e-mail message I received recently from my doctor, Matt, who typically makes me feel neurotic during my regular checkups or my kids’ checkups. In his laid back way, he’ll look at me quizzically and say things like:

— “You have constant headaches? Try drinking more water.”

— “This is some type of viral condition, and it really just needs to run its course.”

— “Sometimes kids throw up for no real medical reason.” — “Yeah, I don’t think you have anything to worry about.”

My MRI results. I still don't really know how to identify issues, but my ACL is supposed to be in the image and it's not because it's completely torn.

My MRI results. I still don’t really know how to identify issues, but my ACL is supposed to be in the image and it’s not because it’s completely torn.

He’s a very good doctor and has a great sense of humor, but sometimes you feel like a hypochondriac when you leave his office. So the phrase “looks pretty bad,” in his e-mail, indeed, alarmed me. Then I looked at the MRI results of my knee, which stated I had….

  • a complete anterior cruciate ligament tear
  • a tear in the posterior horn of the medial meniscus
  • a bone contusion along the posterior lateral tibial plateau
  • a strain of the lateral collateral ligament

Whoa!! A bone contusion? (which is really just a bruise) That sounds hard core. And all that resulted from a fall on a ski run named…Toddler?

December 2014, Monarch Mountain, Colorado

Monarch Mountain, looking all pretty and inviting....

Monarch Mountain, looking all pretty and inviting….

On Toddler: A nine-year-old swooshed past me spraying a little glaze of powder as I laid in the snow on my back with my legs up in the air, boots and skis still attached. The little twinge I felt in my left knee moments earlier after I landed was not a welcome sensation. I had done something to it. And next, I did what most other skiers who had only made one run of the day would do. I got up, skied down leaning on my right leg and went right back into the chair lift line. Continue reading

Signs of the Times: Happy Trails?  I think not…

YIkes! I don't think I'll go any further.

YIkes! I don’t think I’ll go any further.

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, USA.

This is one way to keep people from tromping off the path — and, really, ON the path as well. Notice in the photo below that there is a bench right in the poison ivy patch. Good thing poison ivy is a perennial.

I think I stand, from a distance, thank you!

Have a seat? I think I’ll stand, from a distance, thank you!

Travel Hmm…Corn Maze

Corn stalks in Cañon City, CO

Corn stalks in Cañon City, CO

Cañon City, Colorado, USA. Perhaps I’ve seen too many Stephen King movies, but mazes creep me out. If this had been a frozen snow maze — forget it. However, corn isn’t necessarily welcoming either — or perhaps it’s welcoming in a you-can-come-in-but-you’ll-never-get-out sort of way.

Kurt, the kids and I visited a farm in Cañon City, Colorado with a pumpkin patch and a corn maze for Halloween. The kids loved it (yes, children of the corn). I felt a bit uneasy the whole time we wandered around past what seemed like the same stalks of corn over and over. However, the corn, the stalks and the husks offered a parched and foreboding kind of beauty. I just wanted to avoid any encounters with Malachai and a sickle.

My daughter, Kasey, walking down a dirt road next to the corn maze

My daughter, Kasey, walking down a dirt road next to the corn maze

Continue reading

Signs of the Times: See A Mountain Lion? Put Up Your Dukes…

© Stephanie Glaser

Utah and Colorado. Wildlife is great and all, and who doesn’t want to see animals in their natural habitat? There is something disconcerting, however, when you see these kinds of signs in the areas you will be camping or hiking. It’s even worse that the advice they post is pretty dang ridiculous — in that you’d actually be able to perform these death prevention techniques. Continue reading

Travel Oops: Just Trespassin’ Through

Our unapproved tent behind the pergola on private property near Dominguez Canon, Colorado

Our unapproved tent behind the pergola on private property near Dominguez Canyon, Colorado

July 14, 2013 — near Dominguez Canyon, CO, USA

At seven in the morning, my husband Kurt unzips our tent door from the inside. Through the open flap and the a.m. mist, we see a balding man in shorts and a ragged T-shirt approach with a dog.

“I guess you didn’t see my no trespassing sign over there,” he states matter-of-factly.

Our raft secured to the pergola.

Our raft secured to the pergola.

The owner of the private land on which we had just tented without permission, Ewell, stands just outside our “illegal” nylon shelter. Kurt and I expected a scenario like this but we still aren’t ready for it.

“We are so sorry,” I begin to apologize and Kurt gets out the tent.

“We were trying to meet up with our friends in Dominguez Canyon,” Kurt explains. “And we misjudged how long it would take and we ended up rafting in the dark and we heard rapids, and we pulled over here.”

“We have kids,” I blurt out.

Eddie and Kasey being licked by Odie.

Eddie and Kasey being licked by Odie.

Ewell surveys the scene.

“So, basically, you guys were in trouble,” he says and then comes closer to the tent.

“Let me see these kids,” he moves the unzipped flap over and his labrador bounds through, tackling my son Eddie and licking him and my daughter Kasey all over.

“That’s Odie,” Ewell says. “And he won’t hurt you.”

Leave it kids and a dog to break the ice.

And we needed to break the ice since we were completely staked out on this guy’s property, which turned out to be an orchard next to the Gunnison River.

Continue reading

Signs of the Times: Hey, Audrey — Cut that Crumpet with a Chainsaw!

Audrey is good with a chainsaw and good with the troops.

Audrey is good with a chainsaw and good with the troops.

All I have to say is that Audrey must be pretty badass. After teaching To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee for 10 years and having an annual “Boo Radley Day” where my students and I carve Ivory soap sculptures with plastic knives, I can only imagine what it must be like to whittle wood with a friggin’ chainsaw.

Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's"

Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”

Not to mention that one just doesn’t expect a chainsaw wielding woman to necessarily be named Audrey. I keep thinking Audrey Hepburn and cutting a crumpet for breakfast with a chainsaw at Tiffany’s just seems a bit off.

By the way, I’m not saying Chainsaw Audrey isn’t as elegant as Audrey Hepburn.

At any rate, Chainsaw Audrey is darn impressive with her creations.

Audrey's chainsaw offerings in Cañon City, CO

Audrey’s chainsaw offerings in Cañon City, CO

Stop by the next time you are just outside Cañon City, CO

Stop by the next time you are just outside Cañon City, CO

Travel Ahh…Rocks

At the Remarkable Rocks on  Kangaroo Island with a rock that looks like the west coast of Australia. © Stephanie Glaser 2010

At the Remarkable Rocks on Kangaroo Island with a rock that looks like the west coast of Australia.                                © Stephanie Glaser 2010

I’m no geologist, but rocks have fascinated me for quite some time. I love how they are completely created by the changes in nature. The following rock photos are mainly from Australia, which ROCKS (sorry, pun intended) in terms of cool geological formations. In earlier posts, I’ve included  photos of Uluru, which is magnificent and magical, (and also here) so I’m focusing on some other very cool rocks this time. The above photo and the next three are of the Remarkable Rocks in Flinders Chase National Park, Kangaroo Island, South Australia.

More remarkable shapes at this not as well known national park in Australia.

More remarkable shapes at Flinder Chase National Park  in Australia. © Stephanie Glaser 2010

Continue reading

Signs of the Times: At a loss for words….

cloud signs DIAThese “clouds” or “thought bubbles” are stationed along the exit of Denver International Airport in Colorado, USA. These have the potential to be really cool signs and make people think about….SOMETHING. But they are blank. Empty. Random.

The State of Colorado or City of Denver could easily use them as marketing tools. For example:  Cloud #1: It may be really flat right here… Cloud #2: But just wait…Cloud #3: We do have mountains, seriously.”

Travel Ahh….Color

© Stephanie Glaser 2013

© Stephanie Glaser 2013

Hosier Lane, Melbourne, Australia. Color and travel go together since we are always looking for something striking to catch our eyes. I took the photo above of my sister, Suzanne, and the the next two photos of rubbish bins while meandering down the famous graffiti alley, Hosier Lane.

Continue reading