Spirit in the Sky

Still chasing wildflowers, Mark gets word that Spirit Basin is near peak. A master at logistics, he figures out a way to drop off Pet Rex along the Million Dollar Highway. We will then shuttle eight of us up to Spirit Basin for a one way hike, while still leaving Bobbie a way to bug out early, since it’s a work day.

Hillsides, tinted yellow and magenta.

Hillsides, tinted yellow and magenta.

IMG_1954 IMG_1965

Barstow Mine

Barstow Mine

I could have sworn he said we would be hiking “down” a mining road, but then no hike in the San Juans is worth getting dressed for without a little heavy breathing. We must first climb up to the overlook, which brings us through a beautiful wildflower-filled basin. The overlook affords spectacular views of Red Mountain, a place that would almost make my heart bleed just as red to be up there.

Red Mountains, living up to their name.

Red Mountains, living up to their name.

Radio tower man-talk.

Radio tower man-talk.


Beautiful Spirit Basin

Beautiful Spirit Basin

We meander down and down through a pine forest which is soon eclipsed by lush, quaking aspens. It is another glorious hiking day in the San Juans.

Lunch stop launches into photo shoot...

Lunch stop launches into photo shoot…

John and Joallen Q. sit for the Postcard Maker.

John and Joallen Q. sit for the Postcard Maker.

I can hear Bobbie's laugh every time I look at this photo..

I can hear Bobbie’s laugh every time I look at this photo..

Being the only respectable wage-earner among us, Bobbie leaves us for work.

Being the only respectable wage-earner among us, Bobbie leaves us for work.

As anyone who follows this blog knows, I am typically a week behind in my posts. So while the photos reflect a rewarding hike through Spirit Basin, what follows is written in “real time.”

I am now back in Texas once again. I got some sad news after the Bullion King hike last Wednesday that my Dad had passed away, just three months and a day following my brother Stephen’s passing. He had fallen and hit his head on the concrete just two days prior. Mom called 911 and rushed him to the ER, but unable to find any negative impact from the fall, (coupled with the fact that he was threatening to walk home. 😉 ) they dismissed him.  Two days later, he died peacefully in his own bed, Mom holding one hand and my brother Don holding the other.

Fog rolls into camp

Fog rolls into camp

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At 94, my Dad had lived a very full life. He slipped the bonds of his aged body just in the nick of time, as confinement to a care facility was imminent. As a farmer and outdoorsman, this would have been nothing short of entrapment to him, and would have killed him and my mother both. So although it is a terribly sad time for my family, particularly on the heels of my brother’s death which left us all so tender, it truly was the best of all possible outcomes.

Mom is doing surprisingly well given the circumstances. She and Dad were married for 68 years, so understandably it leaves a gap, particularly after having just lost her youngest son. But she is the most strong-willed and fiercely independent woman I know, so I trust she will adapt and evolve better than most half her age.

Somewhat rare "White Columbine."  Though the outer petals are still a faint blue, the overall coloring is cream.

Somewhat rare “White Columbine.” Though the outer petals are still a faint blue, the overall coloring is cream.

Magenta Paintbrush

Magenta Paintbrush

Monk's Hood

Monk’s Hood

Once again, I am so grateful to have been surrounded by good friends when the news came. From helping me figure out a solution to store the Winnie, to cleaning out the fridge for storage, to an entertaining ride to the airport, offers to do my laundry and conversations shared over “A toast to Dad,” it was so very soothing to be surrounded by such wonderful, like-minded friends. I will never forget their love and support.

I learned a lot from my Dad. If we are put on this earth to learn lessons, he certainly played a big part in mine. Among these life-lessons, the greatest gift I could have received was his incurable wanderlust. From hitching the rails to California at age 17, to a solo road trip to the Texas Valley in his GoodTimes Van at 93, as a farmer, he never let any grass grow beneath his feet..Godspeed, Pop!

“All that is gold does not glitter; not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither; deep roots are not reached by the frost.”
― J. R. R. TolkienSolK

Sol K. Anthony
May 17, 1921 – July 29, 2015
Wander in Peace, Pop.

“Spirit In The Sky”
by Norman Greenbaum

When I die and they lay me to rest
Gonna go to the place that’s the best
When I lay me down to die
Goin’ up to the spirit in the sky
Goin’ up to the spirit in the sky
That’s where I’m gonna go when I die
When I die and they lay me to rest
Gonna go to the place that’s the bestSlide 2

31 thoughts on “Spirit in the Sky

  1. There are just no words for this. I’m so sorry to read of your Dad’s passing. You’re absolutely right, he died a good death; at home, not tethered to machines. But still… it’s another hole in the heart. Take care.

  2. You were lucky to have such an awesome Dad. So very sorry for your newest loss, but glad for your family that he slipped away peacefully and on his own terms. Take a deep breath (yet again) and take care.

  3. Sometimes life just hurts. Right now, we are feeling that hurt with you.
    Our thoughts are with you and your mom and brother.
    From your writing I feel as though I know your father, from life I know that I knew him
    Peace to him,
    Peace to all of you.
    Allen and Deede

  4. So sorry for your loss, you’ve been hit hard lately life has its way with us no matter and we each take our turn. So glad your dad had a peaceful end to a very fulfilling life.
    Shakespeare said it best in Macbeth, “Out ,Out, short candle,” our time here is so brief.

  5. Suzanne, I am so very sorry for your loss. Nothing can replace Dad. I still miss mine every day. I am glad your dad was able to go out on his own terms at home. You, Don and your Mom are in my thoughts and prayers.

  6. Though I am sorry for your loss (especially on top of your younger brother) what a good long life he had! And that he went quickly and peacefully is certainly a blessing.

    A big hug to you from both Hans and I.

  7. Touching words for your “Pop”, Suzanne. We are sadden at your recent losses, and happy that you were with good friends when the news came your way.
    John & Mary

  8. God speed in doing what you need to do and in taking care of your mom. Sounds like Sol was a good pop and husband, and lived and left on his terms. It doesn’t get any better than that. You are so blessed Suzanne.
    On another front, Sharon and I will be in Ouray the last week of August. We look so forward to meeting you, if not then, whenever the stars align.
    May God bless you and your family.

  9. Hi,
    I am very sorry for your loss, it’s so hard even if they are at an advanced age. Sounds like you had a lot of life lessons from your Dad. What a neat man, great memories and terrific father. Your family has had a lot of grief recently, can be completely overwhelming. Will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.

  10. So sorry for your loss. I enjoy reading your blog and the hiking adventures with the gang. May their company comfort you during this time of sorrow.

  11. Someone told me once (after the sudden death of someone close) “you only get as much as you can stand”…so, you have reached your limit. Your Dad’s spirit will follow you in your adventures. Hugs to you and blessings to your family.

  12. I waited to read your post for when I had a few minutes to savor the pics and stories. I never imagined I’d read about another loss. My dad died in much the same way, after 66 years with Mom. We all said he had a good long life and how blessed that he was at home when he slipped away. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him, or hear his voice. I think it was Nina who noted the emotions for which no words exist…May you always find comfort in the love of family, such good friends, and beautiful adventures. My Inbox will be waiting for your next post, whenever it comes.

  13. I’ve thought of you often since your brother passed. So sorry there’s another loss in your family so soon but it really does sound like your dad left on his terms. And now your dad and brother will be with you on your glorious hikes.

    I love that song!

  14. Oh gosh Suzanne, I am so sorry. My heart breaks for you. I so wish I had something remotely wise to say, but I’m completely stumped. All I can say is that my thoughts are with you {{hugs}}


  15. Oh Suzanne I’m sorry. Bless you all, and what a lovely legacy. He did indeed slip the bonds in the nick of time. I, too, love the spirit in the sky image. Beautiful post.

  16. So very sorry to read about the passing of your dad. Sounds like he was a wonderful man. To be able to live to 94 and still be in your home working around the yard and then dying in your own bed is such a blessing. Thoughts and prayers are with you and your family:) So glad your friends were there for you.

    Your photos is this post are extra beautiful. I am not sure what you did but these are some of the clearest photos I’ve seen of this area. I love the one of the Red Mountains and the brilliant orange Indian Paintbrush in the corner:) I really am looking forward to seeing the Red Mountains one day soon.

  17. So sorry to hear about your Dad but I remember you’d written how things were going for him health wise. Very tough man and it looks like you have many fond memories of him. Hang in there kiddo!

  18. It is so difficult to find the words to express our heartfelt condolences to you and your family Suzanne. I cannot imagine dealing with your father’s death so soon after your younger brother’s passing. It is a blessing that your father’s passing was swift and peaceful and that you were once again surrounded by dear friends when you received the news. Sending big hugs your way.

  19. Such a beautiful tribute to your dad — and how wonderful that his greatest gift to you is your wanderlust. I’m imagining that he was delighted by that. Wishing you peace.

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