Life is Short

Just as I was ready to walk out the door to go on I hike, I received a text with some devastating news.  I’ll share more on this in a minute.  When Al and I returned home

scrapbook/photo album

from our six-week adventure, we started notifying friends….”we’re back in town”.  We were like a couple of little kids with a new toy (our adventure) who couldn’t wait to show all our friends.  We were on an adrenaline rush and felt so alive.  We wanted to share this new-found excitement with anyone who would listen.

For five days I scrapped from morning till evening.  The table was covered with photos, stickers, notes, brochures, etc.  Fortunately, Al has never complained about eating meals on the coach.  I love his easy-going nature. I compiled info, reviewed, corrected and printed photos.  And sixty-four pages later, a scrapbook/photo album was born.  Each blog posting was printed and placed in the album with corresponding photos. We now have a hard copy documenting our adventure…..our own book so to speak.

scrapbook

With the exuberance of children,  Al and I made calls to invite friends over.  Oh my, one friend just got out of the hospital after a twenty-four day stay.  Obviously this was a life threatening experience.  Another friend had lost her seven-year old chihuahua to cancer….unexpected.  Another friend was diagnosed with breast cancer.  And today, the worst news yet….one of the couples we got together with in Mesquite, the wife passed from an aneurism.  This was the message I received just as I was getting ready to walk out the door for a hike.

This couple were friends of my folks.  They all met during their RVing days.  The couple had recently purchased a small travel trailer specifically for an Alaskan trip this July.  Al and I socialized with them several times during our stay in Mesquite and both of them were very active and healthy.  So too say the least, this is a shock.

Life is short.  All the more reason to live it to its fullest each day.  This weekend we will share our travel tales with the friend who had the long hospital stay.  This was a wake-up call for he and his wife, and they now think they’d like to join us next winter on an excursion.

live, laugh, love………..safe travels!

scrapbook

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Lessons Learned…

This past weekend brought a steady stream of recreational traffic to the Lake Pueblo State Park.  This will be a pretty normal occurrence most weekends from now until fall.  The Pueblo Reservoir is a popular summer location with folks from Denver and Colorado Springs, as well as surrounding areas.

Pueblo Reservoir, Colorado

The weather in the Pueblo area is usually warmer and drier than our neighbors to the north, thus making it a very desirable attraction for campers and boaters alike.  The Pueblo State Park is rarely crowded, with the exception of major holidays.  A great time to visit is right after one of these holiday weekends.

I recall several years ago, my daughter and I took the wave runners out on July 5th.  We counted all of five boats on the lake, all of which were fishermen.  It was like having our own private lake…..fun 🙂

When we took our brand new Fifth Wheel on a test run, we stayed at the Northern Plains Campground, one of three campgrounds offered at the Pueblo State Park.

campsite 258

While taking delivery of our new Rig, we were informed of a warranty issue that required a part from the manufacturer.  The dealership recommended we take her out on a trial run and use everything to make sure there were no additional problems.  Therefore, when the part came in to be replaced they could also address any other problems we encountered. This was probably the best advice because we did indeed encounter a couple of additional issues.

The Northern Plains Campground is less than a 15 minute drive from our sticks n bricks home, which was extremely convenient since we forgot to pack numerous items. Al had just driven out to retrieve some items from home while I decided to walk the dog.  In my hast and Bear’s impatience, I failed to grab my keys or cell phone.  After a short walk, Bear and I returned to the Rig only to realize I managed to lock ourselves out.  I had no cell phone to call Al.  So I went to one of the neighbors (few and far between).  I borrow their cell phone and call Al.  He promptly informs me he left his RV keys on the dinnette, but he’ll turn around and head back. Fortunately the RV Gods were looking out for me and I just happen to ask for help from a guy from Phoenix who recently retired from twenty plus years in the RV industry.  He grabbed some tools and we headed over to our 5th wheel.  He cut seals, unscrewed screws, and pryed…….my brand new, never used toy…….oh, the pain of watching that first scratch.  Al arrived just as the door was being opened.  Getting locked out… Ah, yes…..lesson number one!

We camped here all of three fun and educational days.  On our drive out of the campground, it’s time to dump the tanks and make sure all works well in that department.  Al gets her lined up at the dump station and readys the hoses.  I supervise a safe distance away.  I ask my wonderful husband a couple of questions as he prepares.  His response, “This ain’t my first rodeo”.  This was followed by Al yelling “Oh, no !@&!!!** oh, no”, and hysterical laughter from me as we watch the tanks empty onto Al’s tennis shoes.  I literally cannot contain my laughter, and soon there after Al too is laughing while shaking his head. Fortunately, our stay had been short and we had used the public restroom from time to time.  AND no audience was present, unlike my post Trial Run with the boat.  Dumping….Ah….lesson number two!  (no pun intended 🙂 )  Trust me when I say, he has NEVER made any mistakes in that department since!

Education Questioned…

As I admire my handy work, I also question my writing abilities.  You see, I just spent the last five days working on a scrapbook.  A scrapbook about our six-week journey.  A scrapbook on this blog.  By printing out or retyping my posts, it required me to reread all postings.  Eek!

I’ve never felt I had exceptional writing skills, and after reading these posts, not only have my feelings been confirmed, I now question my education.  I am appalled, embarrassed, mortified…..shall I continue…..  I detect typos, misspellings, improper sentence structure, overuse of punctuation, etc. etc.  I always read and reread prior to publishing.  Perhaps I should sleep on a posting before publishing.  Perhaps, the next day I’ll catch the error of my way.

I wonder…. should I go back,correct all mistakes, and update each posting?  I ask Al.  His response, “Why did you start a blog to begin with?”  Hum, why did I start this blog?  I started this blog as a form of journal, documenting our travels for our children.  My mom journaled, but her handwriting was almost illegible and in another language.  Therefore, we (her children) are unable to read them.  Oh, how I wish they were more legible.  Al and I visited several areas my folks stayed at during their RVing days. I would love to know more details of their travels.  I would love to visit the very spots they visited. And their photos?  Well most are in boxes.  I wish the photos were with a corresponding journal entry.  Thus, my blog was born!

So since my motivation is for personal reasons and not for monetary or notoriety reasons, I’ll leave the mistakes.  Yes, a flawed individual capable of butchering the English language.  We won’t mention my Chicago accent  …..da bears!

The embarrassment has passed.  I’ll continue to blog.  I’ll write as I speak, as improper as that may be.  It is what it is….flaws and all!

Fourteeners…..

If you live in Colorado, you obviously know what a fourteener is.  For those of you unfamiliar, it’s a mountaineering term used to describe a mountain that exceeds fourteen thousand feet above sea level.  Climbing all of Colorado’s fourteeners is a popular pastime amongst hikers.

Alaska has the tallest fourteener, Mount McKinley in Denali comes it at 20,320 feet.  Pikes Peak places around 57th on the fourteener list in the United States coming in around 14,110 feet.

Pikes Peak, Colorado Springs, CO

Although I love to hike, I know my limitations.  Thus, hiking a fourteener has eluded my repertoire of activities, as well as the bucket list.  I have the utmost respect and admiration for those whom have accomplished hiking all of Colorado’s fourteeners.  I just won’t be one of them.

I do enjoy a good hike.  Whenever we visit my brother and sister-in-law in Grand Junction, CO, we always squeeze in a visit to The Monument, even if it’s only an

me, daughter & brother

easy one hour walk.  That being said, last year my daughter and I were on such a hike with my brother and his wife.  Daughter was still suffering from jet lag having recently returned from studying a semester abroad in Sydney, Australia, and a three-hour hike was out of the question.  The Monument is so beautiful, any hike is better than no hike.  We hiked, we explored, we climbed rocks for photo-ops and that’s when it happened.  A sound escaped my brother……”hum, excuse me”, he says slighty embarrassed.  I comment, “No problem.  Consider yourself healthy and normal”.  I proceed to brief him on a recent Dr. Oz show….a show on flatulence, a show about passing gas…Dr. Oz, gotta love him.  According to Dr. Oz, the average, healthy person passes gas fourteen times per day.   AND THUS……the new meaning of a  FOURTEENER was born !

Have you accomplished a fourteener ?  🙂

Local Attraction…

Alas, my friends, we have returned to Colorado.  It’s not quite two weeks since our return from the “adventure” and Al and I are antsy to get out and explore.  We wish we were still out on the road exploring in our RV.  The Rig is sitting on the side of the house, empty and locked.  She’s had a thorough cleaning inside.  The outside will need to wait for more cooperative weather.  Just as we anticipated, we had a snowstorm a few days after our arrival back in Colorado.  The moisture however was definitely welcome and very much-needed.

The snow has since melted at the lower elevations and this morning we were blanketed by fog.  The weather is expected to be in the upper 60’s and sunny.  Pikes Peak is gorgeous with a fresh coating of snow and I’d like to take some new photos of the mountain.  With that in mind, Al and I decide to take a short hike in Garden of the Gods and go out to lunch at one of our favorite Cafe’s in Colorado Springs.  Prepared for the day we head out, hoping the fog burns off, leaving us with an unobstructed view of Pikes Peak.

Snow capped Pikes Peak

Our first stop is my favorite scenic overlook on Mesa Dr. just north of the visitor center.  The mountain looks spectacular.  The sky is as blue as can be, and the wind, oh the lovely wind, will take anything not firmly latched to the ground, off to Kansas.  Just three miles east, it was as calm as could be.  The wind surprises us.  I’d like to use my tripod to capture a photo of Al and me, but the wind has other plans.  Since we were planning to hike, I brought my light weight tripod which is no match for these winds.  Not wanting my camera to eat dirt, we forgo the self-timer on the camera and I search for a willing tourist to assist in my photo-op quest.  Never mind, the winds are whipping my hair and I’m having trouble seeing.

With these ridiculous winds, we decide to forego the hike.  Al and I decide to stop in at the Trading Post for a look around, and a much-needed potty break.  This is a must see stop when visiting Garden of the Gods for the first time.  There’s a little cafe, coffee shop, and more tourist “stuff” to purchase than you can imagine.  Their book section also offers some comfy seating.  In addition to the Trading Post, I would highly recommend stopping at the visitor center.  The visitor center offers free maps and a ton of information on Garden of the Gods.  Definitely worth the stop.

Last year we hike to the Siamese Twins

Not far from the trading post is the parking lot for the hike to the Siamese Twins.  This is a hike we’ve taken numerous times in the past.  It’s super easy and the views are amazing.  The parking lot and trail are clearly marked on the maps handed out at the visitor center.  I guess we will just need to reschedule for a less windy day.  Another fun activity, one we did a few years back….horseback riding through Garden of the Gods.  The near by stable offers one to three-hour tours.  If you visit in the summer, be sure to go on a weekday.  Weekends are super busy and bustling with tourists from around the world.

It’s approaching lunch, an early lunch, and Al and I are anxious to savor some tasty Escargot.

Our favorite Cafe

LaBaguette has remained one of our more desirable places for lunch for the past five years. LaBaguetteFrenchBistro.com  They have delicious soups, especially French Onion, as well as some of the best Escargot Al and I have ever had.  They are located at 4440 N. Chestnut St. in Co. Springs.  The original location and still very much active, is located in Old Colorado CityThis is an old, historic part of Colorado Springs, located off Hwy 24 and just south of Garden of the Gods.

Parking at both locations can present a challenge.  Parking at the Chestnut location is easier but can sometimes be a problem as it’s a small lot.  However, on Chestnut down just a tad, parking can usually be found.  The area can also be congested, and thus I would not recommend big rigs.

After a lovely lunch, Al and I return to Garden of the Gods in hopes the winds may have died down.  At least enough to allow our hike to be enjoyable.  20-30 mph winds take the pleasure out of the ability to enjoy the surroundings.  Much to our dismay, the winds have only worsened.  The severe gusts….50 mph + are churning up dust and dirt and are obscuring the bright blue sky.  Oh well, we decide to head home knowing we are in a position to return another day.  Yes, we are lucky to have such beauty in our backyard.  I plan to do future posts on the area with more details on campgrounds, restaurants, and sites to see.  Until then, happy travels !