Returned last night from the workshop -- the area around Westcliffe in the Wet Mountain Valley is picturesque and holds some surprises.
For someone who grew up in Lancaster county, Pa, I didn't expect to see an Amish community in a high Colorado mountain valley. Friday afternoon, I saw a group of young men playing softball in their traditional attire (black pants, white shirts, suspenders and hats) while a group of young women in long black skirts and white prayer bonnets filled the bleachers. (Sorry, no photos out of respect.) You could hear them speaking "Dutch" as we used to say growing up (it's really a form of German).
The Valley is a relatively isolated area that's irrigated and grows some of the best grass hay on the east slope of the Rockies. I guess that's what has attracted the Amish to this valley. The families still ride into town in their horse-drawn buggies, but the team arrived in a bus with a non-Amish driver.
The Sangre de Christo Range starts at the Arkansas River and extends south into New Mexico as far as Sante Fe. The area west of the Valley contains the highest percentage of peaks over 14,000 feet in the Rocky Mountains. This time of year, they still hold a fair amount of their snow and the jeep roads up to the high lakes are often blocked by snow drifts eight feet high. Had to fish at DeWeese Reservoir instead, a few miles northeast of Westcliffe, where I caught a nice rainbow on a "gold-ribbed hare's ear".
Teaching the workshop was fun: the students were highly motivated and kept me busy answering their questions. They were interested in design and composition more than technique. The workshop was held in a turn-of-the-century stone schoolhouse that doubles as a museum (http://www.custercountyco.com/museums.htm). Here are some of the students working on simplifying complex subjects while developing a strong focal point.