Friday, October 29, 2010

On Polka-dotted Horses and Speckled Trees

Every year at this time I go crazy. I can't stand to stay indoors or to stay home. I drive all over the countryside, sometimes grid-like--up and down every road in a certain area--looking for the perfect picture.

Fall is winding down, the Last Hurrah before the black and white winter sets in. I can't let all this glorious color go to waste. Then, what if I could find a bunch of mating turkeys or llamas in the fall foliage? I must make the most of every opportunity! The camera stays in the car full-time.

My friend Elaine joined me on Columbus day and we took a glorious ride. There were so may beautiful places, that certain quality of light I seek.  Elaine found the perfect pumpkin!

And a polka dotted horse.  She was so sweet, posing for me and showing us her good side!  (She must have thought so, anyway. She wouldn't turn the other way so I could take a picture of the heart on her flank.)

The next day, Tuesday, the surgeon called to see if I wanted to move my knee replacement surgery up one week, and I got busy doing all the prep work and never finished this posting.

So here it is 12 days after surgery and I'm doing well. I'm exercising with and without a physical therapist and I had my staples out today. I can already tell this knee will be a HUGE improvement over the old one!  When I can sit in this office chair for longer periods I'll get back into the swing of things!

Meanwhile, I miss you all and will visit you when I can. Get on out there and enjoy your days!


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Watercolor World

A short post today...

It's one of those cloudy/sunny days and the clouds are moving so fast that I can't get outside quick enough for picture taking. The wind is gusting and Autumn is here, Right Here!

The past 3 days it rained, and the colors on the trees were pretty, though the days were dark. Looking out my office window, I saw watercolors. I couldn't resist taking a couple of pictures of the crabapple tree and the woods around the building.

These crabapple trees have given me much pleasure in the few years we have been here in our new building. They were donated by a local landscaper, Jim McSweeney of  Hilltown Tree and Garden. They tickle my senses all year. In the Spring they are the fullest, pinkest trees around.

The Winter brings snow and devastating ice storms. I captured these after one of those ice storms that had power out for 4 days and trees broken all over the area.

But that is a month or two away, and I'm going to live for today...Oops, here's the sun again!
Have a Sunny Week!

Friday, October 1, 2010

What I Did on my Summer Vacation

In which I took my teenaged niece Diana and her dad, my brother Jim, to Colorado for summer vacation… I was hoping to expose my niece to a different world and get her out of the high school drama circuit. 15 year old drama is so heavy! They are so co-dependent! But there is life other than the HSDC-and I wanted her to find it! So I bought her a ticket for her birthday.

When he found out, her dad wanted to go too. He didn’t want to miss his daughter’s delight at what she was to see in the Wild Wild West. Jim lived in Colorado for a year when he was young and married with a baby son. That son is 34 now, so it was all a little hazy in his mind and he wanted to see it again and more. I planned and reserved and planned some more. After all, I had lived there for 20 years and I wanted them to experience some of my favorite things. We have a cousin and her family in Denver, and we could stay with them. Jim wanted to camp, so we sent out a couple of tents and some supplies.

Diana was nervous about her first flight and was afraid to imagine the trip because it might not happen. I would try to engage her in discussion before we went, but she just smiled and said anything we did would be okay.

Georgetown, Colorado
The day came, August 3rd!  We went to say Goodbye to Granny, who was thinking about all the trips she and Dad took--they were able to see so much of this beautiful country. She was excited that it was Diana's turn. Then we flew away on a direct flight to Denver.  My cousin picked us up and we gabbed all the way to her house where we were fed royally and shown to our rooms.  They have a huge house, so we were accommodated with style. NOT at the house below...

The Maxwell House, Georgetown
The next morning I went to pick up the rental car, a small Nissan Versa, which was all we needed, in spite of camping. I didn't want to spend all our money on a car! Our plan that day was to eat at the Buffalo Bar in Idaho Springs, visit Georgetown and go over Guanella Pass and back to Denver on Route 285 with lots of time to spare before dinner. When we got there, however, the pass was closed due to landslides and road repair vehicles, so on we went, up over Loveland Pass.

The summit is 11,990 feet high, and Diana was getting giddier and sillier as we climbed. She had finally stopped containing her excitement and went a little nuts! She took pictures and asked questions and we explained about the tree line and the tiny alpine growth that comes above it. We stopped at the summit and she started spinning around, singing "The Hills Are Alive!" Her normally reserved smile went away and we saw the spontaneous open giddiness of childhood. That's what the trip was about!

We went on over the pass and by Dillon Reservoir, through Breckenridge (oh, how it's grown!) and over another pass into South Park. Well, Diana and Jim love the cartoon South Park, so we drove around the town of Fairplay and pointed out sights. One end of town contains an outdoor museum called South Park Museum, but there isn't a real town like the one on the cartoon. The whole valley area there is called South Park, and it's open cattle country, valleys and hills, quite beautiful.  We stopped for snacks and asked about the town and the woman who waited on us said her son took on the personna of one of the cartoon characters. We meandered back through Pine and Conifer and Evergreen, past all three of the places I lived when I moved to the mountains. Seeing my old log house on Elk Creek Road brought tears to my eyes. It was, and still is, the most beautiful place I've ever lived.

We had another day in Denver, doing various things, visiting various places, then out to Casa Bonita for supper. That is another link to the Southpark Cartoon, as one of the characters goes there on the show. My first taste was: YUM, Velveeta! On Friday, we packed the car and took off on our camping trip.  Here's where my planning paid off! The first night we headed to Leadville and camped at Turquoise Lake. 

Turquoise Lake in the distance
Leadville is an old mining town above 10,000 ft, which is known for its gold and silver mines, but most recently the Climax Molybdenum mine. Many of the people who live there are hard working miners who are often laid off by the changing EPA rules. I think of it as a town that works hard and parties harder. They host Boom Days the first weekend in August every year, which draws huge crowds. Boom Days means parades, mining contests, arts and crafts and food for sale, a gun show, a burrow race, and more.

Old mine entrance
The powder magazine at Baby Doe Tabor's mine
We found the cousins, who had chosen not to camp, at the parade and spent the day with them. What fun it all was.

Diana pored over every booth looking for souvineers, Jim went to the gun show, we found a quiet Italian restaurant for lunch then went to root for the guys in the mining contests. They, of course are all strong, handsome dudes in tight jeans, many with no shirts! We were 5 single women aged 12 - 68. Needless to say, we embarassed Jim just a little...

We camped a second night there and then drove over another pass into Buena Vista and on to Mt. Princeton Hot Springs. We met the cousins there and soaked the day away. I love hot springs, and this one has become my favorite. Not only are there several pools of different temperatures, but you can also walk down to the river.

Bathing Beauties
People have made little pools on the sides of the river and you get the icy cold mountain water blended with the hot steaming spring water that runs off the banks between the rocks. You can be as hot or as cold as you want. We all had a great day telling stories and laughing. Then we said goodbye to the cousins and went to set up camp and find our dinner.

I feel pretty-Oh so pretty...NOT
What a beautiful campsite it was, up in the canyon past the chalk cliffs, beside a cascading creek. Aspen trees and various pines and spruces, a clean, raked, spotless site! 

We slept well that night, in spite of rain. In the morning we packed the car with wet tents and dampened sleeping bags and headed south to Great Sand Dunes National Monument.

Bye for Now!
Stay tuned for part two--More to come!