Dolores, Co. 2009 Zoe was a pup

Here is a Colorado memory we revisited this month.

Our favorite memory of the Dolores area is a couple we met there in 2009. Gordon and Jeanne Kuhlman are octogenarians who own land on the edge of town. Their property is split by the east/west road that runs through Dolores. To the South is their home with some corrals, garden and such, to the North are several acres of grazing land that abuts the river.

Over the years we have seen a few RVs parked on this prime location by the river. We stopped to meet this delightful couple and they showed us a great shady spot under the cottonwood trees with a deck that extends out over the river. They had a vacancy for a couple of days and it was ours for a nominal fee. We were thrilled with their ‘Along The River’ hideaway. We got settled in and walked down to look at the river. Zoe was six months old and not very experienced with water, she jumped in and the current immediately started taking her down stream, her eyes were big as saucers. In a panic, we started calling encouragement for her to get to the side so we could grab her.

Gordon and Jeanne came over on their ATV’s in the evening to visit a bit and play with Zoe. Gordon decided it was time to irrigate the grazing land and that was the beginning of Zoe’s great love of water that wasn’t moving too fast. This was before any drought conditions and Gordon believed in pouring the water to the grass. Oh my gosh, Zoe discovered the irrigation ditches and proceeded to jump in and run the entire length back and forth across the field. In a low spot the water over flowed and created a small pond in the grass, she found that too. Zoe had the time of her life and we lamented our now much bedraggled puppy.

The Kuhlman’s had lots of stories to share, the previous year they woke up to noises coming from the kitchen and discovered a bear throwing stuff out of the refrigerator and cabinets, trashing the kitchen. They started making enough noise that the bear was annoyed and moseyed  out of the house. Jeanne said it was a real mess to clean up.

Over the years they had lots of people spend a few days with them ‘Along the River’ and they referred to each camper by the name of their dog. They had trouble coming up with the names of the people but assured us they had it written down somewhere. They loved Zoe and we know if we ever call up there to stay with them again, we better just refer to ourselves as Zoe’s mom and dad.

Much to our surprise the Kuhlmans invited us to lunch the following day. This wasn’t lunch at their home across the street but at their homestead up in the mountains. What a special experience! The land was actually homesteaded by Jeanne’s parents. I don’t remember the exact years they lived here but this homestead is two rooms, a sitting/bedroom along with a kitchen. The walls were covered with, what we consider, antique implements of farm /ranch life and narrow cots piled with quilts. 

Jeanne fired up the wood burning stove to heat up the BBQ and beans. She explained that she and her sister met every year and put up preserves using this old wood burning stove. There is no running water, electricity or anything that we consider necessities. When lunch was ready Jeanne set a wash basin of water and a bar of soap out on the fence post along with a kitchen towel and that was washing up before lunch. We ate on a small porch outside and it was good food and good conversation with a few neighbors. Zoe was loose in the yard and that was fine until she decided to taste the soap. I saw her out of the corner of my eye and excused myself to grab the bar of soap before she ate the darn thing.

After lunch I helped Jeanne clean up, you know the usual, pumping water into a large tub and heating it over the

Jeanne’s Hideway

Jeanne’s Hideaway

wood fire to wash dishes. She set Monty to work pumping water into a bucket to water a new tree in the yard. You gotta be optimistic to plant a two foot sapling in your yard when you are in your 80’s.

Gordon had work to do using a back hoe for some project he and the neighbor were working on. Jeanne jumped on an ATV and looked at Monty and said, “You know how to drive one of these, right?” He said he did and the two of us climbed on we took off across the meadows and to the mountains. Zoe ran along side of us for a bit but I was worried she would hurt herself in the rough terrain so eventually I just held her on the back of the ATV. We went quite a ways up into the mountains and finally had to abandon the ATV’s so we could work our way through the tangle of downed trees and brush. Our reward was an alcove over looking the valley, we were thrilled to see there were still remains of an Indian dwelling. It was awesome and Jeanne was adamant she doesn’t show it to just anyone but she thought we’d like to see it. She read us like a book. We loved it. Until this moment we’ve never mentioned it to anyone just in case someone might want to invade their privacy or cause damage to this area she so loves. What a wonderful experience this was.

Fast forward to August, 2020 and a nostalgia trip to the Dolores area. In the back of our minds  we thought we might stop and see if Gordon and Jeanne were still around. I grabbed a copy of the travel book I wrote so we could share pictures with them.  When we pulled into the yard we were pleasantly surprised to see Jeanne standing on the porch waiting to greet us.  Jeanne hollered to Gordon to come out and we had a nice visit,  reminiscing about Zoe and the trip to the homestead.  We’ve met a lot of folks in our travels but this couple is really special.  

 Gordon is in his 90’s and still using the backhoe for work at the homestead.  This summer they had to rebuild a bridge to the property.  They’d been up to the homestead that morning for some chores.   Since they don’t have Internet, I was glad I grabbed the book before we left home.  

Jeanne got a kick out of the picture of us in the alcove.  When she peaked in the car and said, “That’s not Zoe”.  We introduced her to Miss Daisy.  I hope we can get back that way again soon.

6 replies
  1. Pat
    Pat says:

    Out of the way places and the people we would meet were always my favorite experiences when we were RVing. Totally understand your feelings for this visit.

    • Carrie Bonello
      Carrie Bonello says:

      I loved hearing about your visit with the lobstermen up in Nova Scotia. Yes, I agree, meeting people make it so worthwhile.


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