To my friends who have been requesting this blog for a while now, I do apologize. You know how life runs away with you sometimes? These past four weeks has done that for me! So, per your requests, I am going to do my best to share my Colorado experience…hopefully you’ll walk (or click) away with a good idea of what my vacation in the Rockies was like.
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Thirty-six days ago I set out on a trip, an adventure of sorts. Some would have chosen to fly to their destination, but did I? No way. I drove the 1100+ miles to my destination which was in the southern portion of the state of Colorado in the Rocky Mountains (to be exact the Sangre de Cristo range). In the 18 hours it took me and my fellow companions to arrive at our destination, I had the opportunity to see much of this beautiful country that I am blessed to call home. A touch of Illinois farm country, on to the wooded hills of the Ozarks of Missouri, then into the prairie land of Kansas…I must stop here for a moment because one of my favorite parts of the trip was here in this state. The Flint Hills.
Any vision I had in my mind of the “Old West” as a child growing up was brought to life when I reached this national park of sorts. To try to help you picture the Flint Hills, think of this: miles upon miles upon miles of easy rolling hills covered in green grass dancing in the soft breeze with herds of cattle scattered here and there. Not a tree in sight, but oddly enough trees just wouldn’t be appropriate here. No, instead, as you look westward into this peaceful land you see the sun beginning to set…reds and oranges filling up the sky creating the most perfect sunset you have ever seen…now this, this is the old west that I dreamed of. It didn’t take much imagination on my part to picture a horse and rider (maybe two or three) riding atop one of those hills…heading to who knows where…maybe it is Marshall Dillon traveling to catch a outlaw, or Wyatt Eryp to bring in real American history traveling to avenge the death of his brother…who you picture does not matter...or instead of a horse and rider, picture a wagon train traveling west to the unknown…or even picture a band of Native American hunting bison for supper…each of these imaginings are quite fitting for the Flint Hills… …
Through the Flint Hills we drove, on to Dodge City. Have you ever been there? If you are a fan of the old West and old westerns, it is a must visit. I did my best, but sadly I could not find Marshall Dillon, Miss Kitty, Doc, Chester, or Festus anywhere…they may not have been seen, but they were there…to me they will always be engrained in Dodge. Forever a part of it.
On from Dodge we went…west toward our destination. Finally! We arrived in Colorado (at this point we were wondering if we’d ever find it…LOL!). On we drove west until finally we begin our ascent upward into the foothills of this majestic range…BREATHTAKING. It literally took my breath away. You can see pictures of the Rockies and think you understand just how huge and regal and magnificent they are, but you truly don’t get it until you stand in the valley below them looking up. Seeing the clouds hover at their peaks, the snow lining their caps, their ruggedness just overpowering you…my words cannot do them justice.
Up we went…up, up, up…9400 feet is where we found our destination. We climb out of the vehicles and look east. Wow. If I thought the view looking at the Rockies was amazing, nothing could prepare me for the view looking out while standing in the Rockies. To say you can see for miles is understatement. Views of the valleys below…you feel as though you are standing in Heaven looking out to the Earth below… …and your slightly breathless as well…not only from the view but from the fact that you are 9400 feet above sea level and the air has gotten thinner making it harder to breath.
Enough of the scenery you say? On to your adventures? Ok, ok, ok! I filled my days with not only enjoying the views and panoramic view but also with things such as hiking/climbing, traveling to enjoy other views, and yes, my friends I went rafting as well.
Can I just say that hiking at 9000+ feet is much harder than it is here at home at lower levels? I’ve done my fair share of hiking, but had never experienced an actual mountain hike. It does wear you out, but boy is it worth it! The sense of accomplishment you feel when you reach your destination is unparallel…at least for me at this point in my life it was. It was interesting to watch the landscape change as I went upward. Trees changed and became fewer and the rocks even became different. And the wind at the top…well let’s just say that there is nothing blocking it, lol! Blow ya over strong. Too cool my friends, just too cool. Did you ever play the game "king of the mountain" growing up? Well, I truly felt like a king of the mountain!
A few days we hopped in the car and ventured out to see new places and views. An abandoned town (caused by the moving of the railroad). Everything was just as it was left in the 1920s. Boarded up and closed with the same items inside. From desks to benches to chairs to curtains...everything just left. Talk about feeling like you've been transported back in time! Pretty interesting and at times a tad spooky...do you believe in ghosts? lol, good thing it was daylight when we were there!! We drove up different mountains to see new views, and on one of these mountains we came across some cascades flowing down the mountains--pretty darn cool! We stopped to take some pictures, and as we opened our doors the rush of the water was so loud we had to shout back and forth to be heard even when just standing a few feet away from each other… …can you imagine the power of the current of the water in those cascades? Truly awesome my friends. Just awesome.
And finally, the rafting on the Arkansas river. I had a blast, I really did...but I have to admit, I was a little let down. The river was down, which made the rafting easier and not as adventurous. But, nevertheless it was fun. There is something cool about traveling down a river in just a raft with paddles. Not on a boat with an engine and nice comfy seats, or in a canoe. No, the raft makes it a completely different experience. Somehow to me it makes it more dangerous and exciting. Gotta make sure to watch out for rocks and paddle the right way and be alert…fun my friends, fun. But my next rafting adventure has begun to form in my head…a repeat experience is in my future and the next time it is my hopes that the water levels are higher…I like challenges J
Sadly, our stay came to an end and we headed back down the mountains and east…towards home and reality. But what we had just experienced was something that would not soon be forgotten… …
…a longer blog than usual, but even so I had to scale myself back or I fear I might have written a book! This by far is in the top five of my favorite vacations ever…I’ve seen the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore and New York City and the Badlands…and at this point I would rate my trip to the Rockies at #1. Being up there in the mountains away from the hustle and bustle o life just enjoying nature changed my perspective on a lot of things. When we get bogged down with work and constantly being on the going and doing this or that we tend to forget to stop and yes, smell the roses. We forget the simple things that bring peace and happiness…it somehow gets lost, and when we lose that what we get in return is stress and more stress…sometimes we need a remind to just slow down…no friends, life has been changed for me…for the better. J
I tend to like to stay on the subject of football when I post a blog, but there is something that's eating at me and I have to get on my soap box and rant about it.
Where has the respect for our veterans and current service people gone?
I find it to be almost non-existant, and to be quite frank with you, it honks me off.
How dare we not show them respect. How dare we not help support them when they return. How dare we not take the extra measures to enable them to have jobs. How dare we not treat them as heros...How dare we?
Now, I want to say that not everyone is disrespectful, but there are quite a few people that are. And most people would make the stereotypical statement of "Young people now-a-days just don't have any respect for veterans and service people." I won't make that statement because I have found that it's not only young people. It's all people.
I had a long conversation wtih a World War II veteran hero (I call him hero because that is exactly what he is) this morning. I see this man around town quite a bit, and always try to thank him for his service and the freedoms he has allowed me to have.
Well today, he wanted to sit and talk for a bit with me and I felt honored to have to opportunity to listen. This man has 5 gold stars of honor--2 of them being Purple Hearts. WOW! Hero indeed! This man was a marine in the war. He fought at the bloodiest marine battle of WWII and survived. He protected this country and gave of himself. For you, for me, for our parents, for our children, for our grandchildren, etc. He sacrificed because his country asked him too.
Here's the sad part of the story that is what has set off this rant: He was asked by a local high school teacher to come and share with other veterans at the school on Veteran's Day last year. He felt honored to do so. He went prepared to share with students that wanted to listen. He said the lack of knowledge from the students of what WWII was about was astounding. That many didn't understand or really know what WWII was about and the magnitude of it, As I am sitting there listening, I thought "Are you kidding me? Are we really not teaching this anymore? This is a piece of American history that should be taught forever. We should never forget it. EVER." Our conversation went on for a while and ranged to many different subjects, but this is the part that really stuck and bothered me...
So I ask this to you my fellow forum friends: Why as a country to do we lack respect for those that have served and are serving our country?
In my opinion, each and everyone is a hero. The deserve and will get my respect regardless of the wars, battles, etc that they have fought in because each and everyone gave of themselves for me. They ensure and protect the freedoms that I daily have and tend to take for granted. Each of them are heros in my book...here's to hoping they are to you as well.
**Disclaimer--to all of my fellow forum friends (and if you are reading this, then you are counted in this group ;) ) that have served or are serving this great nation THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. I am in your debt, and you are a hero to me. May I never forget the sacrifice you have made, and may I not take my freedoms for granted.**
In an earlier blog I discussed the punishments handed down by Commish Goodell to the coaches and the Saint organization for the participation and condonement of what is The Bounty Scandal. I fully support and agree with said punishments for many reasons but the main reason being this: I find it dispicible and unethical to place a sum of money on injuring another human being...especially when these men are supposed to be professionals at the game of football. You should not have to injure someone to reach the goal you seek--winning a Super Bowl. No, instead to win the Super Bowl you should want to face the toughest opponents each week (especially in the playoffs) so that when you win the Super Bowl you can say you beat the best to get it. To me, if you have to intentionally injure someone to reach said goal then you are a woosy, a cheat, and chicken. Again, this is all my opinion.
That said, it seems that possibly the final gavel has been dropped as far as punishments are concerned with The Bounty Scandal.
On top of losing HC Payton for the year, Asst HC Vitt for 6 games, GM Mickey Loomis for 8 games, $500K fine, and the loss of 2nd round draft picks for this year and next (unless that is reduced due to "good behavior" as Iike to call it), the Saint will now endure the loss of some players.
The following suspensions have been issued:
Jonathan Vilma (Linebacker and backbone to the Saints D) is suspended for the entire season effective immediately.
Anthony Hargrove (Defensive Lineman) suspended for 8 games
Will Smith (Defensive End) suspended for 4 games
Scott Fujita (Linebacker) suspended for 3 games
Now, Hargrove is now a Green Bay Packer and Fujita is now a Cleveland Brown, so the Saints are really only affected by the suspensions of Vilma and Smith.
Knowing this, some might think "Well that's not too bad for the Saints. They only lost 2 defensive players from all this." But my thought is OUCH, dang that has to hurt for the Saints--Vilma is a huge part of the Saints D. He is a leader on the D side of the ball. So, while it might not hurt to lose Smith just for 3 games, it will most definitely hurt to lose Vilma. Some sources are already eluding that this suspension might cause Vilma to go ahead and retire after the punishment has ended...only time will tell to that.
Vilma has talent. He knows football. But any respect I might have had for him as a football player ended immediately when it became know that he offered up $10K of his own money for injuries to QBs Kurt Warner and Brett Farve. In Warner's case he could have suffered permanted head injury. I wonder how Vilma would have felt about that...a father and husband forever impaired due to a specific bounty he (Vilma) had instigated? But then I guess if he was involved in this whole bounty scheme, he probably wouldn't have cared...
To top this off, players around the league are having a fit over these suspensions, indicating they find them unfair. Some say Vilma was "just playing football" so it is unfair he is suspended for the entire season, others (our beloved Robert Mathis being one of them) are saying the players had no choice b/c the coaches told them too, and while others just down right don't like it.
To them I say this: you stop "just playing football" when you hit with the intent to injure. Yes, football is a contact sport, but you cross a line when you decide to intentionally hurt someone. I don't care if it is something that has been done for years, it is still wrong. And you always have a choice. Even if the coaches told you to do it, you are still a man and you still make your own decisions. If you decide to go along with it, then it is no longer just the coaches fault, it is now yours as well. No one can make you do anything except yourself.
To end, I would like to say that I completely agree with all decisions Goodell has made regarding The Bounty Scandal. They were unpopular but he has stuck to his guns. His message came across loud and clear, and I hope all players where listening--player safety is important. Anyone trying to hide behind coaches or peer pressure or anything of the sort will not find exclusion. If you participate in knowingly trying to injure a player you will be punished.
For once I completely agree Commish. Good job.
Well, we talked about it for weeks. We waited in barely contained anticipation...THE DRAFT.
Would we indeed draft Luck?
Would Grigson get it right?
Would we go heavy on defensive drafts b/c of Pagano?
Would we, would we, would we... ... ...
So... ... ...did we? Is it a job well done?
Thursday. Primetime rolled around, the draft is opened...15 seconds ticked off our clock before Grigson picked up phone and made the call to our #1...by 8:10, Andrew Luck was an Indianapolis Colt. I knew Luck was our guy. (How could we not know that when we let Peyton go? Luck would be the only reason Irsay would allow that to happen.)
I hoped and prayed we'd have a shot at Fleener (and yes, Allen as well). I know, not everyone agrees with this, but yes I do think Fleener has a viable and good NFL career ahead of him. As the first round continued on and as it started to come to a close my hopes soared. Before I knew it, round 1 was over...what's this? Fleener and Allen are still there???? How is that possible? The football gods are smiling down on us, that's how.
Friday. Pick #34 rolls around and it has to be Fleener...right? Right...sure enough we got him.
But I've got to be honest here, once we picked up Fleener I thought we'd move on to either beefing up our O-line or going straight to the D side of the ball...I didn't even entertain the idea of picking up Allen. Two TEs in one draft? Nah, wasn't going to happen in my mind. Then we did.
At first I was thinking "what the heck?" Then I got to thinking about it, and it makes sense.
If you still don't know how it works, and if you think we wasted that pick, go check out Coach Arians' style of offense. It involves two TEs. So, rest easy my fellow Colts fans. We did not waste a pick, AND we got the two best TEs in the draft. We are set (IMO) at the TE position for quite a while.
Fast forwarding...by the time the draft was over I honestly couldn't believe we have drafted 8 players on the offensive side of the ball. I thought for sure with Pagano in here we would finally build up our D. That we had finally realized that defenses win CHAMPIONSHIPS. Part of me went "Arg!" But the more I think about it, the more I realize why what we did makes sense.
So, think about this with me for just a minute. We just drafted our franchise QB. The man that is going to be around (hopefully) for 15 years...leading us to victory...leading us (hopefully) to more Lombardi trophies...What does every QB need to succeed? Smarts? Yes. Talent? Yes, of course...but talent in just your QB won't get you far if you don't have targets for him to throw to and protection for him to be able to throw...will it?
That is why our draft choices for this year make sense. We drafted 2 WRs, 2 TEs, 1 RB, an OT, and yes 2 QBs on the offensive side of the ball. All of these (minus Harnish) offer targets and protection for Andrew to succeed.
And let's not let it go unnoticed that we did draft two defensive guys: a NG (which we need, IMO) and a DE (who was a beast in college and I predict will be a beast in the NFL).
I could go into their stats, and I will if you prompt me to. These players history supports why we picked them. So, for me, we did get it right. Grigson stayed focused and showed restraint by sticking to our board. By trusting and relying on the due diligence that had been down prior to the draft. So, I would like to say "Well done Mr. Grigson, Coach Pagano, and Tom Telesco. You have done well. Now, the time has come for you to take these young men and mold them into NFL monsters...COLTS monsters."
I want to put a disclaimer at the beginning of this blog: I in no way am putting the Saints (who are not involved in the Bounty Scandal) or Saints fans down in this blog. I urge you to not consider that to be anywhere in my words. Quite the contrary, I feel for the fans (I can only imagine what I would do should my beloved Colts have been involved in something like this...), I feel for the players who are innocent and uninvolved in the bounty,,,but, the question I pose is one we're all thinking...
The Bounty Scandal. We all know what it is. We all have our opinions about it. And we are all wondering the same thing: Just how bad will this season be for the NO Saints?
To recap: dating back to the 2009 season, the powers that be that run the NFL have suspected a possible "bounty scheme" being run within the Saints organization. The Saints and Payton where given one, no two, no wait THREE warnings about shutting it down if there indeed was such a thing going on within the organization. The Saints pled innocent, assuring the commish and others no such thing was happening in their organization...well, someone snitched on the organization and confirmed to the NFL powers that a bounty scheme was indeed being ran in NO (who it was does not matter to me, and personally I am glad they did...now if I was a fellow teammate that happened to be involved in the bounty scheme I'd be shall we say ticked). Therefore, a full on investigation was logded to find the truth.
Well folks, the truth ain't pretty.
Not only was Greg Williams (then the NO Saints DC and most recently hired as the Rams DC) involved, but so was Sean Payton, the HC and someone I considered to be a pretty stand up guy...boy was I wrong...I first thought, no, Payton didn't know about it. He just wasn't doing a good job at managing his staff. Friends, this hope has been shattered with evidence showing Payton was indeed aware of the scheme. He lied to investigators about it, and instructed his defensive assistants to lie as well...let's just say any ounce of respect I had for him is gone. I hang my head in dissapointment at this one. You see, even though I am not a Saints fan per say,I had gained respect for them...especially Payton and Brees. These two men to me brought the organization up from ashes to a playoff contender consistently in the recent past, so to find out that one of them was deeply involved in something as repulsive as a bounty scheme disgusts me (and yes, slightly crushes me).
Commish Goodell then issued his verdict and sentences for those involved: HC Payton suspended for the entire 2012 season (originally to begin April 1st, but pushed back to April 16th due to appeals), Assistant HC Joe Vitt suspended for 6 games , GM Mickey Loomis suspended for 8 games, a $500,000 fine to the organization, and the loss of their second round draft picks for not only this year but next year as well, and Greg Williams, well IMO he has been Pete Rose'd from the NFL...suspended indefinitely.
Ok, recap done, let's move on to what "good behavior" from Payton, Vitt, and Loomis could get them. After the appeals, Goodell, who has been (and remains) pretty unyielding and firm regarding not tolerating such repulsive behavior as bounties, has not locked the door on the monetary fines and loss of draft picks.
Goodell said in a statement if Payton, Loomis and Vitt “embrace the opportunity and participate in a constructive way,” he would consider reducing the financial penalties on them.
Goodell also “would consider whether there are factors that would support modifying the forfeiture of the team’s 2013 second-round draft choice.” (What I read into this is, depending on how deep and wide this thing goes the Saints might have the opportunity to get this part of the punishment revoked.)
So in essence, Goodell is saying "Hey, you messed up...big time, BUT if you learn from your mistakes and get on the straight and narrow I will make things a little easier as time moves on"...so, hope is not lost for the Saints...it's time for these men to show what they are made of. Time to admit you are wrong, correct your ways, and honestly promise not to do something so dispicable again...to me that is what Goodell is looking for from them.
OK! All that said (and it needed to be said to get to the meat--the point--of this post), where will this leave the Saints in 2012?
The book is not closed regarding this scandal. Up to 27 players (many who are still with the Saints and many who are now else where) are being investigated and are likely to be fined/punished for participating in this sorid scandal. (FYI: Saints middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma has been charged by the NFL with offering a $10,000 bounty on Vikings QB Farve if a teammate sidelined him in the 2009 NFC Championship game...first of many...) When Goodell has finished running his fine toothed comb through this situation and has issued all punishment that needs to be issued, where will the Saints be? What will they be left with? Will their season this year (and possibly next) be down the drain with no hope in sight? ... ...
All is NOT lost IMO. Butm the weight of this heavy task falls on the shoulders of one man: Drew Brees. Brees is the heart beat of the Saints team. When he came to NO, he revived the Saints and a city that seemed to have given up on football. He was like water in a dry desert (granted, Brees would say the same about the Saints b/c this organization revived Bree's NFL career from the dead...no one wanted him after his shoulder injury). Drew brought passion...he brought hope...he is a big reason why the Saints are who they are today. Whether you want to admit it or not, Drew is at the center of the reason for success for the Saints.
Now, this task for Drew is even bigger than ever b/c his counter part in success was/is Sean Payton...who finds himself smack dab in the middle of this bounty scandal...so...Payton is gone and Drew is left alone to keep the team from falling...can he do it? Will he get it done? ... ... ... ...
My answer is this: IF ANYONE CAN DO IT, DREW BREES CAN.
... ...but the Saints organization needs to get a contract sealed for their leader... ...if they fail to do this, I shudder to think of the future for the Saints... ...
To some, this blog will be considered a few weeks too late, but I really don’t think it is…
I think in all the draft madness and Luck vs Robert Griffin III who is better talk and the release of many of our beloved players chaos many of us have lost focus on those that remain as well as the awesomeness (MO) that is our HC. We’ve lost focus on our team, and what they are doing, how they are thinking, and where we are going.
Some articles on Colts.com have some good quotes from our veterans that tell us their frame of mind…about the excitement, yes the excitement they have for the next step in what is Colts football.
SO, I'm just going to share some quotes from our veterans and our fearless leader (whose defense I cannot wait to see in action this Fall). To listen to what they have to say makes me excited…there is a reason why Reggie stayed in Indy and didn’t go elsewhere…he sees what is happening and recognizes that it is going to be greatness again. There is a reason why the FAs that have come in are excited to be in Indy…it’s a combination of Pagano and what is being built…fellow fans, we are on the verge of another era of greatness, and I for one am so excited I can’t stand it! Colts football is not dead. Quite the contrary, it is most definitely alive and well. A low rumble of a growl has started in downtown Indy fellow fans. Yes, the new shirts being worn at the Farm Bureau center in Indy speak the truth. A monster has been born…a monster will not be slayed…are you ready for the ride? … … …
"We start fresh. Forget about what happened in the past and keep pushing on." --Collie
“It’s different. It’s very different but at the same time, it’s exciting,” --Bethea
“It’s exciting. Whether change is good or bad, it needed to happen and it happened I think everybody is excited to get going and move forward and compete." --Angerer
“If there’s anybody who has a chip on their shoulders, it’s us. We have to get it done...We’re here to win games, and we’re not going to fall short of our goal" --Mathis
“This is home and this is where I wanted to be. (I’m a) Colt for life." --Wayne
“I do want to be part of it, just like I’m part of the city,” said Wayne. “I just want to help build that foundation. It’s not set in stone that we’re going to (struggle). Who knows, we might shock the world. This time next year, you might be writing that these Colts are some bad boys." --Wayne
“I always thought of myself as a Colt. I came here to win. I came here to win games. I didn’t come here to fall off. The intensity is still the same and the agenda is still the same. We’re going to do everything we have to do to get to that point." --Wayne
"I like the new (coaching) staff. I am looking forward for things to get rolling, I’m ready to see how things are going to play out. I am excited about the future. I think we’ll be a more aggressive style defense, rather than sit back." --Johnson
“You have to let your coaches coach and you have to let your players play, but you have to be one step ahead of everything.” --Pagano
“They’re going to get a face-full of Chuck Pagano. Whoever we play on Sunday is going to get a face-full of Colts, and on a weekly basis. We are going to have fun doing it.” --Pagano
“That’s our goal – to win.” –Pagano
“I’ve always said the speed of the leader determines the rate of the pack.” --Pagano
“We’re going to find the strengths of this unit and the weaknesses. We’re going to put them in the best possible position to be successful and to win games.” --Pagano
“Our motto is, ‘Simple me, complex you'...Having said that, just because we line up and they say, ‘They’re a 3-4 team,’ we may be a 4-3 team on first down, we can be an odd 3-4 look on second down and the Lord only knows on 3rd-and-7-plus. That’s our goal.” –Pagano
“Let’s hunt!” --Pagano