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Its Greater Outdoors for July 29, 2010

by Gary Rollins

LA VETA- Back in the day, as many will remember, Art Linkletter had two smash-hit television programs.  One was “People Are Funny” and the other “Kids Say the Darndest Things.”

    Sadly, Linkletter passed away a couple of months ago, but it was the memory of the second program that provided me with a spark for this week’s commentary.

    Each week, I take great pleasure in seating myself on one of the benches in front of Charlie’s Market and shooting the breeze with the many visitors that come to enjoy Don and Mitzi Keairns′ ice cream.

    Frequently, it is their license plates that give them away.  But, T-shirts and baseball caps are also quite revealing.

    This past week, it was a couple from Houston who were both sincerely interested in knowing the places they could visit and take pictures while they’re enjoying the break from the high heat and humidity that combine to make the Bayou City miserable for most  of the year.

    Earlier, they had seen the mule deer meandering through the neighborhoods and the gent, a computer programmer, asked if would be possible to see elk this time of year.  They had done their homework and were aware of the elk herd that lives in the Huerfano Valley.  They also confessed the altitude and the thin air were a new experience for them.

    And then came the question I shall never forget.  The lady leaned forward and said, “I hope you don’t mind me asking, but at what elevation do the mule deer turn into elk?”  I tried to keep my laughing subdued.  I suggested they take their Suburban over to the Town Lakes, where geese are usually to be found at that time of day.  And off they went.

    But, I have one more knee-slapper even funnier than the first one.  We welcomed a couple from Southern California who had never, ever been in this part of the country and they were absolutely blown away by the mountains and the scenery and the deer walking around town.  We enjoyed their company at dinner the first evening and, almost on cue, the deer and the turkey showed up to nibble on our greenery.

    The next morning, remembering the elk herd usually began their trek down valley about the time breakfast was ending, I asked if they’d like to take a little ride in the truck.

    And so we motored slowly down CR 360 and as we passed a wooded glen, I was delighted to see a sizable number of elk grazing quite close to the road.  Very carefully, we eased out of the truck and our lady friend was able to capture some pretty neat photos before the elk became edgy and moved away.

    That afternoon, prior to their departure, our friend asked if she might use our computer to check for messages and access her Facebook account and, inasmuch as I am one of her “friends,” I got a big laugh out of reading what she told all of her friends about La Veta.

    And the high point of her trip, or so she said to all of her friends, was the “flock of elk” she had seen that morning.

    Folks, I am not making this up.  Our visitors do say the darndest things.