Monday, August 26, 2013

It's been a great summer ...........

So what have we done since we last chatted a week ago......We moved from Chatfield SP, home of pine trees and spinning prairie dogs.....   back to Cherry Creek SP, home of cottonwoods and magpies and cute little mule deer.   He came to visit one day along with some other siblings and about 4 adults.   
We saw this sign in the window of an Italian restaurant......

One of us went on a motorcycle ride in the hills on winding roads and liked it.........

The other one finished her last class at the Gardens and is sad.    But work on the final project for it will keep her busy for a couple of weeks..................

And so, it is time to finish up our time in Mile High country and head west to even higher points.   We  will leave in the morning for a long day's drive to Ridgeway SP, near Ouray, Colorado.    There will be many pictures to share and good times in the San Juan Mountains.     

Monday, August 19, 2013


 It's that time of year when the familiar rhythm of school and fall start creeping into our lives.    Being old and retired and living either on the road or in the Sunshine State, this season often bypasses us.    But this year, we were privileged to be right in the middle and angst of transitions.  
Nicholas and Kelsey are sorting out the final details of a big wedding in November .... Kelsey is also in her last semester at CSU while Nicholas continues out in the fields with Halliburton as a fracking engineer.....and spending time on the new cycle.    When did he grow up??
 Alex stands proudly next to his new (to him) Mustang.   He was able to get in all of his worldly possessions, like golf clubs and a refrigerator and TV and headed south to ASU in Phoenix.    He's the first to go far away..... he will leave a big void in that big house.  
 Becca has her cute little Beetle to get her around at semester and then it's out into the real world.  
 We spent part of Sunday, helping her and Lizzie get her things into a smallish room at the sorority house.   I'm always surprised that kids these days have their big rooms at home and then somehow manage to move into dorms and houses and share tiny rooms and closets with strangers (initially) and seem to adjust quite well......or not.   There is always the roommate from Hell that pops up now and then.  
 Lizzie started HS last week and is starting the process of 'what do I do next....."  But she has wise parents and siblings who have gone before her for counsel.     AND, she's now an only child !!

As we left the house that night after a delicious family dinner, the setting sun was a harbinger of good things for all........(No retouch necessary on this) 

Meanwhile, the "mature" student continues her studies......   I've completed 4 classes already!!   The Director allowed me some leeway and I was able to take one of them out of sequence....otherwise, I would not have been able to complete this many.   The Botanic Gardens Art and Illustration program has a very strong reputation and most of the students in my classes fly in from around the country for the weekend classes.   Usually, they are offered one day a week for 5-6 weeks.   Impossible for me unless I take up temporary residence.    I don't have much to show for my efforts (and money) as much of the early classes center on theory and basic exercises.    Some of it I've had before at the NY Botancial Gardens when I was MUCH younger.      Anyhow, a few weeks ago, I took a class called Light on Form.    Our final project had to be submitted within a month.    We weren't given a choice of subject matter.....the shell and shiny stone are to teach us shape, volume and light.    I had fun with it and the shell and I became very good friends.    I passed the course !
This weekend I completed Pencil I....  a basic course, required before most other courses....this was the one they allowed me to take out of sequence.    I learned some new things but mostly, I met some great friends.   I've missed hanging around with others of like interest and this group, altho diverse in age and accomplishments, hit it off over lunches and breaks and walks in the beautiful gardens.    Most were local so I'm hoping to meet up again in other classes.     We didn't have a final project for this class altho we drew tomatoes most of the last day.    I smudged my almost completed drawing on the way home and if I fix it, I'll share sometime.   
And now, it's back to reality for us as well...... cleaning is on the agenda while one of us is honing his accomplished pickleball skills.    And it's hot so no hiking today............maybe a drive in the mountains tho !!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Catching up......

We're still in the Denver area, still in Chatfield St Park, but we've had to move from site to site occasionally and we lose our good wifi connection.   We're back near it again so time for more pictures of distant vistas.    
 On our last day at the Jeep rally, we went on a short, easy trail ride to Mt Zion.   We climbed to over 12,500 ft where we proved that we'd made it by having our portrait done.    In the background somewhere is the mighty Mosquito Pass that we did a day or so earlier.


 If you think you might wander into the mountain trails for some peace and quiet, you might be disappointed....especially on the weekends.    We had a bit of a traffic jam up there.

 Coming down, we passed thru the my favorite aspens.

 Leaving the rally, we came down HWY 91, which connects Copper Mtn with Leadville.   Along the busy road is this beautiful scene.   But there is no pullout or stopping place in order to take a decent pic but thought I'd share this one taken thru the window.    I don't know the name of the lake.

 Previously, we stayed at Cherry Creek SP, which is closer to Denver.   Chatfield is closer to the mountains and the kids.    It is a popular balloon launching site and most days, they fly gently overhead.   This one got a bit close for a moment.

 And then landed with hardly a bump ....

 We are also near Roxborough SP....newly created in 1996, it is a beautiful setting among the red rocks.  ...(no camping).

 If you've been south to Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs,  or north to Red Rocks Amphitheatre, this is part of the same upheavel, 15,000,000 years ago.

We chose the moderate Fountain Valley Trail for 2.5 miles with a couple of scenic overlooks thrown in.

Our trail meandered among the rocks and climbed upwards for distant views.

In the early 1900's, a gentleman built this cabin and hoped to develop the area for tourists.....he failed and sold the land to a rancher.    In 1974, a beautiful golf course, Arrowhead, was built.   Further developement  also failed and in the 1990's, the land was acquired and protected.   But they failed to purchase ALL of the land, and now, on the other side of the rocks, near the golf course is a pricey gated community.
This area is home to many native plant and animal species.    Signage gives helpful hints for avoiding the prairie rattler, the black bear and the mountain lion and bobcats.  There are numerous sightings of the snakes and a mountain lion was seen on Saturday.  I kept my eyes and ears on the trail, especially in the narrow rocky sections.

I have an illogical fear of the large far, my hyper-vigilence has paid off......  This was the only wild creature that we saw the entire day.    Even the wildflowers were mostly done.       It was a perfect day......

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

It's all about the flowers.........

I figured you'd seen enough of the mountain trails on a day to day basis, so I'm just giving you a compilation of a couple of trips.     We did an easy group trip one day up to Chalk Mountain.   Beautiful views of the nearby peaks and of Leadville.    As we climbed higher, we came to the 
 area of alpine tundra.   It is a crumbly surface with low scrubby growth and few flowers.   You can see your footsteps
 if you should walk on it.    There are various organizations that protect the trails and local Jeep clubs promote  good trail use.    Environmental groups monitor the use of the trails and some have been closed due to abuse.

I had to halt the parade this day to jump out to get a pic of the Mariposa Lily.    The root was used for food by the Ute Indians and the Mormon pioneers.    The bees were too busy to fly away.

A bluebell.......

 Isn't this pretty......pretty typical along this particular trail.

 A mountain stream above treeline.....
We arrived at Slide order to see it, we walked about a half mile each way.   It was a gentle climb but at 12,000 ft, nothing uphill is particularly gentle.  
 It was a small lake and not brilliant blue like so many alpine lakes, but it was crystal clear.
 Along the edge, nearly in the water, was this flower called Elephant Head.  Note the fern- like leaves. Only very specific bees can pollinate it.

 Fleabane and Queen's Crown.
 On Friday, after wandering thru Vendor Day, just the 3 of us wandered off in Mike's Jeep.  We headed up Weston Pass, very easy and mild but it brought us to the historic town of Alma which is the beginning of the trail to Mosquito Pass, which was our real destination.

 This area was a rich mining area and many structures still exist in various forms.
 But the highlight of the entire day was finding an area filled with Columbines.    This is the state flower and it is illegal to pick the unusual blooms.   In it's natural state it is mostly varied shades of purpley blue....     Altho it was very breezy, I was able to crawl around and get some pretty good pictures.   I could have posted about 25 but not sure you were up for that today.......!
 I didn't notice the bee at work until I viewed this on the computer.

 There was a guy poking around the mine tailings looking for a nugget or two.    The shafts go down 1000 ft....and there were several around this one.    Because the shafts are partially buried or in precarious states, they are very dangerous for the curious or children to be around.
 We started the climb to the top.....this side wasn't too bad , just rocky and narrow...
 At the top is this reminder of just how high you are.....and why you can't jog too fast.
 But then, you read this plaque, dedicated to a minister who went over the pass in the winter on a regular basis to deliver the mail to Leadville from South Park....on snowshoes.  
 The ride down was more intense, a bit tippy, narrow and very rocky.....some of the curves required backing up to make the turn.  

In the "It's always something" category.....yesterday, we were doing nothing and enjoying it, when we heard a strange noise.   I put my tin ear to work and thought I heard water running : (    I narrowed it down to the front bathroom....but altho I definitely heard rushing water, there was none visible anywhere.....and then, I looked under the sink and found a real gusher pouring out of a line that had come disconnected from the pipe.     Most of it managed to find it's way outside but the wastebasket managed to catch some of it.     My on-board Mr Fix-it.....he has a T-shirt that confirms that title.....managed to get the water turned off pronto and then fixed it for a part that cost UNDER a dollar....unheard of in a vital RV part. !!     Makes us want to turn off the water whenever we leave ..... and also concerned that there is enough of an opening that most of it went on the ground.