A Refreshing Trip to CO

When the wedding invitation arrived in my beau’s mailbox, I’ll admit I was a little nervous about attending. “Let’s wait and see what the schedule looks like,” I remember saying. I wasn’t looking for excuses really, but something about going to a wedding that involved the family of my beau’s ex was a little nerve-wrecking. Good news was that his ex wasn’t going to be there. Although divorce shouldn’t sever the ties of previous family relationships, my situation, unfortunately, seems to have gone differently. I was genuinely happy that my beau still has relationships with his ex’s family. Once it looked like the trip was going to be a “go”, we planned some activities around the upcoming celebration of love.

Day 1: After many trips to Keystone, I had driven by the shadowed mass on the I-70 of what is Pike’s Peak but don’t recall having actually gone there so the drive toward this particular mountain was incredible. I’ve always wanted to run the Pike’s Peak Ascent but my schedule has never permitted it due to timing of the school year. Some day, perhaps! We arrived after about a 7 hour trip to Colorado Springs and after checking into the motel (great price through booking.com!), we decided to check out Garden of the Gods. This particular location was also listed on my Bucket List board on Pinterest! Inspiring, to say the least! I can’t help but feel closer to God in the mountains, particularly when you see such wondrous sights such as these!

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Day 2: Our morning began early after having purchased tickets weeks ago to ride the Cog Railway up Pikes Peak. We had to be at the depot by 7:30 AM. Of course, I hadn’t planned on having strep throat and still being on antibiotics for this trip either, so although I had wanted to HIKE Pikes Peak, that wasn’t going to happen on this trip.  I wanted to get to the top so the railway was the way to go. Again, the views were spectacular! I was elated that I didn’t get altitude sickness on the way up (I can be prone to that based on my history) and we were both trying to stay hydrated to ward off any potential problems, so much so that Mike couldn’t wait to get to the top and was first in line for the bathroom! The conductor did an excellent job with her commentary on what we were seeing and puns and made the 1+ hour journey up (and back) very enjoyable.

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Day 2 continued: The wedding was also this day so after heading back down the mountain and visiting the gift shop (of course!) we rested before getting ready for the wedding. It was a lovely ceremony and you could just feel the love and contentment between the bride and groom. I felt very accepted and there was no discomfort at all.

Day 3: This was the BIG day! We had planned to hike a 14er (a 14er is a mountain that exceeds 14,000 feet. See What are 14ers?)and carefully chose Mt. Bierstadt as my beginner mountain. Mike had hiked a couple of 14ers many years ago so this wasn’t new to him but he hadn’t hiked this one yet. We got up at 4:30 AM to drive 2 1/2 hours to the trail head (from Colorado Springs to Georgetown) to ensure that we were down below the tree line prior to any potential storms coming in during the afternoon. I had my Garmin on to see what the mileage would be like but it died at 6.4 miles after several hours on the trail despite having been fully charged prior to departing. The book that we referenced said the trail was a 6 miles round trip hike that should take about 6 hours so I’m curious as to what our actual mileage was since we were beyond that and weren’t even down yet!

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The trail started through willows and then got to boulders. Due to my running, I would consider myself to be quite fit yet my legs were screaming at me to stop because they were so tired of climbing! When we got to the part where we could actually see the summit, it was easier to keep going. A second wind? Perhaps. The end was near! Well, the TOP was! We still had to hike down.

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The view from the top

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Another view from the top. The clouds were starting to gather and you could see lightening off in the distance therefore we didn’t stay on the top as long as we would have liked.

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Tired was an understatement but WOW! what an accomplishment! We hiked a 14er!

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This was the “official” marker of having made it to the top – a cardboard sign! Yep, had to take a picture.

Going down was tough and Mike twisted his ankle more than once. The parking lot seemed a long, long, long way away and we got rained on a couple of times as well as lightly snowed upon. We did pack adequately though, and had plenty of fuel and water to make the trip, for that I was grateful. After spending about 7 hours hiking and getting up predawn, we crashed that night!

Day 4: Since we were in Georgetown , just down the road from where I spent many days in Keystone, I wanted to show Mike the place I love so much so the next day we headed in that direction. After showing him where my parents’ town home used to be, we walked around Lakeside Village and then walked to River Run, sharing stories of my experiences as we went. After shopping at the Silverthorne Outlets following our walk (I took advantage of the savings and did some Christmas shopping!), we headed back to Colorado Springs.

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Day 5: That night we stayed at the Air Force Academy (cheap lodging!) and toured the chapels in the morning. They were absolutely incredible! The larger chapel was Protestant with a humongous organ in the balcony. Below that was a Catholic chapel and Buddhist and Jewish chapels. What an amazing place!

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I only had a week left before I headed back to the classroom for meetings and I can’t think of a better way to wrap up my summer. I accomplished things I hadn’t done before, admiring God’s incredible works and spent precious quality time with the one I love. And in case you’re wondering, yes, I was very glad that I went!

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Escaping on Spring Break

It’s been long awaited – the joy of a full week off – SPRING BREAK!  I had decided to split up the week to have time away and time at home,  a win-win situation, right?! The teens seemed to think so. Time away, time with their friends and time with their Dad. Too bad my eldest just got a new job and couldn’t come with us.

I put in my mandatory 3 1/2 hours at work on the Friday, packed up the kids and the dogs, and began the trek to Keystone, CO, where the mountains were beckoning. We did a couple of hikes, tried tubing (1st time in 13 years we actually couldn’t slide due to accumulation on the slope!), and walked in the snowstorm that dumped approximately 40″ in about 4 days.

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The morning after a few inches of snow fell – glorious, breathtaking, God’s handiwork scenery.  The pic on the left is Buddy and Cooper on a hike through an overlook by Lake Dillon. They love galloping through the snow and didn’t mind sinking belly deep! I sank in thigh-high deep at times but it was a  very enjoyable hike.  There’s just something about being in the mountains surrounded by such beauty that I feel at home, in peace, and so close to God. It clears the cobwebs and stress from my life back home and I feel so. much. better about EVERYTHING. What a wonderful emotional/mental break from life. And great cross-training, too!

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Brother and Sister did some great bonding on this trip. Lots and lots of laughter and memories made.

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Can you see how beautiful it is? In fact, my son got burnt on this 6.18 miles hike!

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This was our destination – La Bonte’s Cabin – and ski area! 

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And then the snow began in earnest. We took a walk when it tapered a little (my daughter coordinated her walrus socks with her Grandma’s jacket!) but it was snowing sideways and actually wasn’t  very pleasant. I came back with my hair soaking wet but I was plenty warm enough, despite the dropping temperatures.

We had planned to drive back on Tuesday and despite the hazardous warnings and the first time I’ve ever seen signs requesting  passenger vehicles have chains, we braved the I-70.  The highway wasn’t as bad as it could have been and some blowing snow caused some issues but we did just fine.  By the time we got to Genesee Park on the west side of Denver, you couldn’t even tell there was any weather! How bizarre . . .

As always when I leave, my soul feels fulfilled and although I didn’t want to go, I knew I had to. I’ll plan another trip soon.As it turned out, if I hadn’t left when I did, I wouldn’t have been able to leave due to the additional inches of snow!

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Mid-mountain on North Peak – Elevation: 11,237 feet – The official snow stake!

 

 

 

Brrr, Chilly Colorado!

Boxing Day (Dec. 26th for those that don’t know) was the day we once again loaded up the van for our traditional Colorado trip. We usually stay through Dec. 31st but due to my crazy desire to do something I’ve never done before, I decided we’d come back a day early (see previous post on the Hangover Series!). My oldest couldn’t come as the restaurant industry’s busiest time allowed him none off. I, however, needed a mental break and some get-away time!

It was bitterly, bitterly cold but if you were dressed appropriately, it didn’t feel too miserable.  It hadn’t been THIS cold in many, many years.

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This was what my phone said when I awoke on the 27th. I was going to go for a run but changed my mind until it had warmed up a little! Yes, it says NEGATIVE 18 degrees real feel!!!!

I was even more excited to be there this year as my brother and his wife and daughter from Hilton Head Island, SC were coming too!  I hadn’t seen my brother in 4 years since he’d moved. We had a blast ice skating, tubing, skiing, and snowshoeing. Before I knew it, it was time to pack back up and make the drive home.

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Skiing at the A-Basin, a first for me. Although the runs weren’t as long and there was only 1 quad lift, the crowds weren’t bad at all.

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My big bro and I.

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Trying out my new snowshoes. Hard work but LOVED it! We did a perimeter hike around the course and then my mum and I headed up the back mountain for some more miles.

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3 Generations – my mum, daughter, and I.

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Ice skating and hockey at the Adventure Center!

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2 of my crazy offspring on the tubing hill at the Nordic Center. They had a blast!

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We had to show my niece the Chocolate Village! It had a Star Wars theme this year (but not shown here).

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Might I add that I love it here?! Even though it was so cold, the magnificence never ceases to amaze me. Absolutely beautiful. I took this pic on the way to Mountain House.

Once again I didn’t get to do everything I would have liked to have done but that’s part of the fun of returning.  I was, however, disappointed that there wasn’t an ice sculpture for the New Year by the Village Lake this year. I guess they put it in River Run instead, somewhere else I didn’t make it to!

Miles, Moose & Memories

I think my Honda Odyssey knows the route to Keystone, CO, where I love to spend as much time as I’m able.  I saw the weather forecast for our fair city and thought, uh-oh, I can’t be stuck for a miserable sleet/ice-y long weekend! I made it out before the weather came in and back in as it was over. Perfect! Food was prepacked so our only expense is gas and hot coffee while traveling. (Yummy Mighty Mocha Latte from QuikTrip set the trip off to a great start!)  Oh, and Adele’s new CD – 25.

So we left early - 6 am - but still ran into a bit of funky fog. But all of a sudden, poof! It was gone! Weird KS weather!

So we left early – 6 am – but still ran into a bit of funky fog. But all of a sudden, poof! It was gone! Weird KS weather!

So, there’s no back yard where we are when we’re in Keystone which means when the dogs need to potty, we have to take them out on leashes.  I was up early Thanksgiving Day, maybe due to the time change, maybe due to the fabulous silence of being in the mountains or not wanting to waste a moment being inside in Colorful Colorado and God’s gorgeous mountains. I leashed up Buddy and Cooper and headed out.  I was walking through the parking lot when a large shape caught my eye by the tennis courts. By golly, there were 2 HUGE moose meandering up the walk!  I fumbled for my phone in an attempt to get evidence but alas, for such large animals, they move quite quickly. I went in search of them to be sure my eyes had not deceived me and saw them again by the townhouses before they likely headed back up the mountain as a loud bus taking skiiers to the slopes rounded the corner.  WOW.  Majestic moose were the words that came to mind as I marveled at their sheer size.  And the fact that I’ve been coming here for YEARS and only just saw this by the homes!

No, REALLY! There were 2 moose by the tennis courts!

No, REALLY! There were 2 moose by the tennis courts! (center of the pic kind of by the brown house)

Our first full day there consisted of a Turkey Day Fun Run in Frisco, supposedly a 5K.  My Garmin measured it at 2.68 miles. No timing, just for fun (really!). I ran with my daughter. We did it for the first time last year.  Fortunately there wasn’t anywhere near as much snow as there was last year (knee high and mushy. Think mashed potatoes!) and only some ice. We enjoyed watching all of the dogs dressed up and running with their owners. Dogs are so accepted everywhere there.  LOVE.

By the "start" line. Me & my fellow runner/daughter.

By the “start” line. Me & my fellow runner/daughter.

The Finish Line banner - perfect for Turkey Day!

The Finish Line banner – perfect for Turkey Day!

Got a pic like this last year with just my daughter. Had to get one with both of us this year.

Got a pic like this last year with just my daughter. Had to get one with both of us this year.

Our "official" finish picture. Yes, I grabbed my daughter's hand so we could finish together. I know, too sweet.

Our “official” finish picture. Yes, I grabbed my daughter’s hand so we could finish together. I know, too sweet.

My parents walked it. Not too strenuously as my mother had just had her 2nd cataract surgery 3 days earlier!

My parents walked it. Not too strenuously as my mother had just had her 2nd cataract surgery 3 days earlier!

A Thanksgiving tradition we've been doing since 2008, a balloon launch in memory of my sweet nephew,Weston, who went home to be with the Lord at the young age of 22 months.

A Thanksgiving tradition we’ve been doing since 2008, a balloon launch in memory of my sweet nephew,Weston, who went home to be with the Lord at the young age of 22 months.

Always loved, never forgotten. We write messages on the balloons.

Always loved, never forgotten. We write messages on the balloons.

A glorious sunset during an evening hike up what we call the "Back Mountain".

A glorious sunset during an evening hike up what we call the “Back Mountain”.

We took the dogs out several times a day to run and we hiked the “Back Mountain” several times as well, almost getting caught in the dark once! Cooper scared me on one of these hikes as he came toward me, crying, then trying to bury himself in the snow.  Great, I thought. He’s having a stroke of some kind and I’m going to lose him. Not to mention we’re over a mile up the mountain! Fortunately, he had a drink from my water bottle, cooled down in the snow, and then took off like nothing had happened. Geesh. Now to calm my beating heart.

Salmon for Thanksgiving dinner since 3 out of 4 of us are vegetarians!

Salmon for Thanksgiving dinner since 3 out of 4 of us are vegetarians!

My dogs love Colorado and playing in the snow! They particularly enjoy running without their leashes.

My dogs love Colorado and playing in the snow! They particularly enjoy running without their leashes.

We left to go home very early Sunday morning as not only did I have to go back to teaching and the kids to school, my two sons were back home. My youngest hates the long drive so we compromised this trip.  I can’t help but feel sad each time I leave there. I feel so at peace and more in-tune with my body, feelings and spirituality. Maybe some day this will be my home. In the meantime, I’ll visit as often as I can.

My Mountains Were Calling

Yes, I must go!

Yes, I must go!

Labor Day. A long weekend.  Made better by an additional day off without an inservice meeting.  A mental break. What a wonderful treat! Hmmm, cool air, my hiking boots and the trails along with my pups.  Yes, my Rocky Mountains were definitely calling.

My bags were packed and I was beginning the journey as soon as the children were at their respective places.  I had wanted my older son to come along but he’d just gotten a new job and after being unemployed for several months, he definitely couldn’t ask for time off and desperately needed the money. So, it was me and my two fur babies (My parents were already up there).  It had been a long day of teaching but I figured I would take a nap, which I did about 1 AM Mountain time after going through a hypnotizing construction zone.

The sunset over the wind farms by Salina was breathtaking and this picture snapped by my cell phone is nothing compared to its true beauty.

The sunset over the wind farms by Salina was breathtaking and this picture snapped by my cell phone is nothing compared to its true beauty.

I arrived at approximately 6:20 AM and hopped in bed for a few hours before heading out for my first hike of the trip.  After all, that’s what I intended to do as my mountains were calling me! It was a 4 1/2 mile hike along Lake Dillon road with an additional loop with some amazing views.

Can you see the tiny sailboat? Glorious view!

Can you see the tiny sailboat? Glorious view!

The next day was a much longer hike.  I’ve hiked the Peru Trail before in both summer and winter but I’ve never gotten this far before.  Our trip took us about 5 hours but we were only hiking for 3 hours 34 minutes and 51 seconds.  (I always take my Garmin hiking, just like my runs, as I like to know how far and long it takes me.)  The trail itself was beautiful but since the mine had been operational, the road had been fixed to allow for traffic.  In the past there had been some traffic to accommodate those hikers driving to other trail heads.  We counted a minimum of 16 cars at one trail head and 19 at another. Crazy busy and I have to be honest, it spoiled the hike since we had to keep stopping to get to the side of the trail. After all, it IS going UP a mountain and it’s narrow!

The sign at the Montezuma Pass parking lot before heading up the trail.

The sign at the Montezuma Pass parking lot before heading up the trail.

Isn't the sky just incredible?! It was an absolutely beautiful day for this long hike!

Isn’t the sky just incredible?! It was an absolutely beautiful day for this long hike!

The dogs loved the opportunity to cool off in the river. From left to right: Cooper (mine), Lillie (my parents' pooch), and Buddy (mine).

The dogs loved the opportunity to cool off in the run off from the river. From left to right: Cooper (mine), Lillie (my parents’ pooch), and Buddy (mine).

My daughter loves to visit the graves of these two young girls on the way up the trail. Since she wasn't here for this trip, my Dad put a stone on the graves on her behalf.

My daughter loves to visit the graves of these two young girls who passed away at very young ages on the way up the trail. Since she wasn’t here for this trip, my Dad put a stone on the graves on her behalf.

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My hiking partners – my parents! They’re incredibly fit and passed their love of hiking on to me 🙂

The official trailhead!

The official trail head!

The official Garmin read of our hike.

The official Garmin read of our hike.

The clouds came in the following day but Dad and I were still able to do a 6 mile hike up the back mountain with the dogs running around crazily.  We beat his best time yet to the logging road and did this round trip in 1 hour 47 minutes.  We only met a few bikers on this very narrow trail (one which we easily flew by) and a hunter or two.

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The view from approximately half way up the back mountain. You can see Sts. John and the lake at the Adventure Center with the funky turquoise water.

After the trail we took the logging road as high as we could.

After the trail we took the logging road as high as we could.

My hiking boots were a great deal from Columbia Outlets. I got them 80% off a season or two ago and have put many miles on them since!

My hiking boots were a great deal from Columbia Outlets. I got them 80% off a season or two ago and have put many miles on them since!

Before I knew it, it was time to go home.  I had a wonderful time and a fabulous break.  I was ready to see my children again, but not necessarily go back to work 😉 I was fortunate enough that by staying with my parents in their townhome and eating in, the only expense for this trip was the gas and the copious amounts of coffee to keep me awake. This picture of Cooper staring forlornly out of the window as we drove back through the mountains summed it up.  He looked like he was pouting!  Until the next time my mountains call . . .

Cooper pouting that he's leaving the mountains. I know, Coop! I feel the same way!

Cooper pouting that he’s leaving the mountains. I know, Coop! I feel the same way!

Colorado Vacation #2 in Pictures

My summer has rapidly come to an end and I start my inservice days next week before school starts up again.  It was refreshing to review my pictures from my latest trip to Colorado.  How I love it there!  Can’t wait to plan another trip!

Day 1: Hike along the Continental Divide.  Haven't done this one in a long time and the kids and dogs loved it!

Day 1: Hike along the Continental Divide. Haven’t done this one in a long time and the kids and dogs loved it!

My youngest - he's been hiking since he was a little tyke!

My youngest – he’s been hiking since he was a little tyke!

My oldest - look at that view!

My oldest – look at that view!

At the top of Dercum Mountain. It started raining on our way up in the gondola so we didn't spend much time up here.

At the top of Dercum Mountain. It started raining on our way up in the gondola so we didn’t spend much time up here.

This was Cooper's first time going up in the gondola. He enjoyed looking out of the window!

This was Cooper’s first time going up in the gondola. He enjoyed looking out of the window!

My youngest and I went on the paddle boats. These ducks were hanging out on the paddle boards.

My youngest and I went on the paddle boats. These ducks were hanging out on the paddle boards.

My hike of choice this trip was up what I call the back mountain.  It's literally outside of the door and I can go as far as I want.

My hike of choice this trip was up what I call the back mountain. It’s literally outside of the door and I can go as far as I want.

My dogs get worn out when we go to Colorado. I take them out walking numerous times a day. They run and run and run!

My dogs get worn out when we go to Colorado. I take them out walking numerous times a day. They run and run and run!