Heading Home

I’ve had a great weekend visiting my brother and his wife in Grand Junction, Colorado, and it’s now time to head home.  I miss my boys….hubby, Al and dog, Bear.

Grand Junction
Leaving Grand Junction; heading east on Interstate 70

I contemplate the return drive to Pueblo West, Colorado.  Friday I drove to Grand Junction via Highway 50 and although it was a beautiful drive I opt for a change of scenery today.  Therefore, I decide on Interstate 70 and plan to head east driving past Vail and over Vail Pass.  Once I get to the town of Frisco, I’ll turn south on Highway 9 which will take me through the center of Breckenridge, Colorado.

After a quick breakfast and two cups of coffee, it’s hugs goodbye.  Skies are overcast and within thirty minutes a light rain begins to fall.  Living in an arid climate, my windshield wipers haven’t been used in a while.  So they skip across the windshield making a rather annoying sound….very irritating.

Just west of the town of Glenwood Springs, Colorado, is the Glenwood Canyon.  I was fascinated by this stretch of Interstate 70 the first time I drove through here back in the early 1980’s and I still find it fascinating today.  The Colorado River winds it’s way through this rock canyon and Interstate 70 meanders along the river elevated.  It’s basically two long bridges like the causeways you see in Louisiana or Florida.  East bound traffic sits at a level closer to the rushing Colorado River while westbound traffic continues highly elevated above the river.

Glenwood Canyon
Glenwood Canyon heading eastbound I-70. Upper bridge is westbound I-70

Due to the rain, it was rather difficult for me to capture this amazing road system.  And guess what?  It’s construction season.  So shortly after this photo was taken, traffic was diverted via the next off ramp to the upper deck.  The lower deck, eastbound lanes, are being totally redone/replaced thus turning the 2 westbound lanes into two way traffic – one lane in each direction.  Speed limit down to 45 mph.  At least traffic is moving.  If you have a fascination with bridges or construction like I do, click here for a little more info on the construction of the Glenwood Canyon corridor.

At this point, I’m wondering when the rain will let up.  The windshield wipers are still making that irritating noise from time to time.  Now with the interstate down to one lane in each direction AND raining, I need to keep my eyes on the road and can’t take in the gorgeous scenery surrounding me.  The original plan to make several stops along the way is scrapped with the promise to retrace this drive another day.

As I approach Vail, the rain is turning to sleet.  Nope, won’t be stopping for a photo-op.  Sorry folks.  I wasn’t planning on snow today!  I continue east, the road climbs in elevation as I approach Vail Pass.  The summit of Vail Pass sits at 10,662 feet and as I climb the rain and sleet quickly turn to snow.  Since the pavement is relatively warm when the moisture hits the road fog starts to form playing with visibility.  Fog, snow, potholes, semi-trucks, twists, turns, up, down does not make for a relaxing drive.

Here’s some photos I snapped out the windshield.  Click on any photo to view larger and FYI…the date all these photos were take; May 20, 2013.

Once over Vail Pass, it’s a mere ten minutes before I exit Interstate 70 and pick up Highway 9 at the town of Frisco.  I head south toward Breckenridge.  It’s still raining and at times pouring, but thankfully no more snow.  I stop for gas and a bite to eat in Frisco.  Darn rain.  I had all kinds of ideas for photos to share with you.

As I head south out of Breckenridge, the road climbs once again.  I need to get on the other side of the Continental Divide.  After a series of switch backs, I climb up and over Hoosier Pass (11,542 feet in elevation) then down into South Park and the town of Fairplay.  Yes folks, there really is a South Park, Colorado.  Highway 9 between South Park and Canon City is pretty remote with ranches here and there.  Therefore, when I stopped in Frisco for gas and lunch, I sent Al a text message letting him know where I was.   The next 2 hours I’ll be in and out of cell phone range and pretty much have the road to myself.

These are some of the folks I saw along the way……

Al and I have traveled this stretch of Highway 9 plenty of times, thus I’m not surprised to be out in the middle of no where by myself.  Years ago, this former city slicker would have felt very uncomfortable traveling through this environment alone.  Today, not so much.  I make sure my CD player is loaded with music because good radio reception is also sparse around here.

I’m cruising along enjoying the scenery and thinking how grateful I am to call Colorado home.  It was at this point the CD player changed discs…..The Moody Blues…..wow, a flood of memories waifs over me.  Nights in White Satin……I hit the repeat button at least three times.  Click here to listen.  As I reflect and reminisce about years past, I’m careful to keep my eye on the road.  The speed limit may say 65 mph, but I assure you many of the curves require reduced speeds of 35 or 45 mph.

My journey continues.  I enjoy the music and scenery.  As I come around another bend, an on coming pick-up truck flashes his brights.  Now normally I would think there’s a cop trying to catch speeders, but out here?  It’s got to be wildlife.  So I slow, looking around to see why he flashed his lights.  Sure enough, Mule deer on the side of the road.  I roll down my window and catch this gal as she scales the fence.

Mule Deer
Mule Deer scales the fence

Six hours and 328 miles later, I pull into my driveway.  Yep, I figured this route would be shorter, but I think I prefer the route I took Friday.  Hmm, maybe if the weather had been nicer and I could have stopped here and there for photo-ops.  Maybe then I would have enjoyed it more.  Perhaps a repeat is in order 😉Colorado

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A Visit with my Brother

Columbine
Colorado’s State flower; the Columbine. My sister-in-law is a master gardener and the yard proves it!

It’s six-thirty in the morning on Saturday, May 18th.  My brother and I sit at his kitchen table enjoying a cup of strong, hot coffee.  He and I are both morning people.

My brother has already been up since five-thirty working.  While we visit and drink coffee, he reviews his Tablet and jots notes down on a piece of paper.

My brother is a successful Real Estate Agent in Grand Junction, Colorado, and has a couple of appointments today.  We chat about his day.  Hmm, does that mean he’ll be viewing houses?  “Oh please, pretty please can I tag along”, I ask?  My brother responds, “Sure, but you might be bored”.  Bored?  I don’t think so.  I never tire of looking at houses.  I wonder, as long as we’re out and about, perhaps I can talk him into looking at some new homes and land development.  It’s the home builder in me.  I just can’t help myself.  Even on our winter excursion to the desert southwest, I found time to visit model homes.

After my brother takes care of the appointments, we head over to a new home subdivision.  We check out a couple of houses under construction.  I feel like a kid in a candy store.  We check out a house being framed, then we enter one in the trim phase.  Curiosity satisfied, we head home to visit with the gang.

Sunday we awaken to a beautiful day.  A perfect day to visit Colorado National Monument, most often referred to as The Monument.  The Monument is a ‘must see’ on any visit to Grand Junction.  Click here to visit the web-site and read all about this beautiful place.  To me, it’s a hiking paradise and the photography opportunities are endless.  During past visits, I’ve hiked some of the trails, but since I’ll be leaving in the morning we settle for some strolls here and there at the various overlooks.  And of course that entails taking plenty of photos.  So here’s a little sampling of The Monument.  Click on any photo to view in a larger format.

Grand Junction and the surrounding area are popular with active retirees.  However, young or old, folks from around the world travel to this part of Colorado for world-class biking.  There is an abundance of trails for just about any kind of cycling.  There’s even a bike trail leading to Moab, Utah.  The biking is what brought my brother to Grand Junction, Colorado over eight years ago.  His only regret….not moving here sooner.

In addition to all the bicycling opportunities are the hiking options.  Hiking….right up my alley. You’re not into biking or hiking?  How about wine tasting?  There are several wineries in the area that are open year round and every fall they host a wine tasting festival.

The Grand Junction area is host to all kinds of festivals, some featuring well-known entertainers like Kid Rock and Luke Bryant.  With so many things to do and see and set against a beautiful backdrop, I can see why folks are proud to call Grand Junction home and loving every minute of it.

Grand Junction
My brother and me visiting The Monument

Thank you to my brother and sister-in-law for a great visit.  I know I’ll be back…….you’ve been warned  😉

Grand Junction
Sister-in-law, brother and me at Colorado National Monument – FYI….I’m not that short, the ground was very unlevel…..really!

Time for a Break

As the looming snow-capped mountains come into view, I feel a sense of excitement.  It feels good to be back on the road, especially after the past few weeks.  Weeks of cleaning and preparing the house for sale has gotten old real quick.  I need a break.  I need to get away.  It’s Friday, May 17th the weekend before Memorial Weekend; the official kick off to summer fun in Colorado.  A perfect time to hit the road.

Colorado
Highway 50 west of Canon City meanders along the Arkansas River

I leave Al and Bear behind and hop in my little red Toyota Tacoma bound for Grand Junction, Colorado.  Within a mere thirty minutes from home, the road begins to twist and turn as Highway 50 meanders along the Arkansas River.  This particular stretch of Highway 50 can be stressful when there is a considerable amount of traffic.  This morning I practically have the road to myself and thus drive at a relaxing pace allowing myself to take in the scenery.

Arkansas River
Arkansas River east of Salida, Colorado; known for white water rafting

The Arkansas River between the towns of Canon City and Salida, Colorado, is a popular tourist destination for white water rafting.  The rafting season hasn’t begun just yet, therefore no rubber rafts in sight, but that will change in the next week or so as the snow melts in the high country making for some fast moving water.  Canon City and Salida both offer plenty of rafting outfitters to accommodate the various levels of adventure seekers.

Salida Colorado
The Continental Divide looms in the distance

As I get closer to the town of Salida, I sense a rise in elevation.  Perhaps seeing the Continental Divide in the distance is a reminder of the change in elevation necessary to cross the Rocky Mountains.  My journey started in Pueblo West at an elevation of 4,900 feet and I have been gradually climbing as I approach the town of Salida at 7,000 feet.

Just west of Salida, the road climbs more aggressively toward Monarch Pass and the Continental Divide. Monarch Pass sits at an elevation of 11,312 feet and is the high point of Highway 50.  I’ve been on the road a couple of hours now and could use a break ….. photo-op.  There is still plenty of snow but it’s a sunny, warm 60 degrees at 11,312 feet.

Monarch Pass
My little red truck and I stop for a break at Monarch Pass 11,312 feet in elevation

What goes up, must come down.  Once on the other side of Monarch Pass, it’s all down hill, as evidenced by the “runaway truck ramp”.  I often wonder how the driver of a semi-truck feels racing down a twisty, curvy mountain road with brakes not functioning.  It’s not as if a guard rail, when there is a guard rail, would stop a semi from tumbling over the edge.  That kind of excitement, I assure you, I do not need to experience first hand.

Continental Divide
surrounded by beautiful scenery
Continental Divide
I’ve crossed the Continental Divide; it’s all down hill from here

I’ll stick with my little truck.  I coast down the western slope of the Rocky Mountains with the help of my brakes here and there.  Traffic is light.  I’m really enjoying the drive.  I stop for lunch in Gunnison before stopping at the Blue Mesa Reservoir.  I can’t believe how low the water level is at Blue Mesa Reservoir.  The past few years of drought have taken a toll on Colorado’s reservoirs.  However, it should fill considerably as the snow melts in the high country…..I hope.

Blue Mesa Reservoir
Highway 50 crosses Blue Mesa Reservoir
Blue Mesa Reservoir
Blue Mesa Reservoir; the water level is low due to drought
Rocky Mountains
Blue Mesa Reservoir
Montrose Colorado
A perfect day; Highway 50 east of Montrose, Colorado

I continue on the journey enjoying a perfect day…..oops….spoke too soon.  I come to a screeching halt about fifteen minutes east of the town of Montrose.  Construction!  Did you know Colorado only has two seasons?  Winter and construction.  I knew this day was too perfect.  Oh well, with no place to go we all shut off our engines and enjoy the perfect weather and scenery.

Rocky Mountains
Construction has us stopped east of Montrose
Rocky Mountains
My view to the left as traffic is halted for construction

With plenty of time to day dream, I glance out the rolled down window and wonder about the folks living on this ranch in the above photo.  They are probably cattle ranchers.  Pretty common in this area of Colorado….cattle country.  Could I live here?  Would I want to live here?  Probably not….. most likely not.  The winters are long and hard in this neck of the woods.  Come on, it’s the end of May and there’s still snow on the ground.  You should see this part of Colorado in the winter…..beautifully white in all directions covered deep in snow AND it’s cold….the air and the snow 😉

Highway 50
After thirty minutes of sitting, we’re finally moving again
Colorado
Highway 50 just east of Montrose, Colorado

After thirty minutes of waiting, traffic finally starts to move and it is once again smooth sailing the rest of the way.  6 1/2 hours and 383 miles later I pull into my brothers driveway in Grand Junction…..right behind his new travel trailer.

Colorado
Brother’s new travel trailer

My brother and his wife camped in Moab the previous weekend.  Knowing I was coming for a visit, brother postponed stowing the trailer so I could see his new toy.  We spend the evening swapping RV stories over cocktails and catching up with life in general.  Tomorrow we’ll visit The Monument.

A little of this, a little of that

bluebells
bluebells are popping in Colorado (photo courtesy of tumblr)

Mother’s Day weekend was a whirlwind of work and fun.  Our daughter drove down from Denver to spend the weekend with us in celebration of Mother’s Day.

Colorado weather has finally put winter in the rear view mirror and we enjoyed warm temps and sunny skies…..bring out the flip-flops and shorts….yeah!

Al and I held a garage sale on Friday and Saturday morning.  We had spent the previous two weeks cleaning every nook and cranny in this house.  It’s been exhausting, consuming, but liberating.

The purging started off slow.  We’re not hoarders or packrats to begin with.   So we kept saying, “Yah, but what if we need that or I really like that?”  However, as the tables in the garage started filling with items to sell, we found ourselves backtracking and pulling more items from closets, the basement, etc.  It got easier with each arm load.  I even started pulling items out of the cupboards in the kitchen.  If I haven’t used something in the past year, I probably don’t need it, thus sell.

mimosas
daughter makes mimosas and takes the photo

By Saturday afternoon, we were tired but happily counting our money.  Whatever didn’t sell, was dropped off at Goodwill.  We feel like we’ve lost weight…..well at least weight we won’t have to move to another location.  The house will go on the market soon.  That’s the biggest bulk of weight we need to unload 😕

Sunday, Mother’s Day, started off with coffee in bed followed by breakfast and mimosas.  It was indeed a lovely and relaxing day.  A much needed day off.

With all our focus on getting the house ready to put on the market, travel has unfortunately eluded us.  Thus, no new travel tales to share.  I haven’t even picked up my camera in a while.  Hopefully we’ll remedy that soon.   In closing , I thought I’d share this precious photo and prayer……

A Prayer for Grandad……..

prayerDear God,

Please send clothes for all those poor ladies on granddad’s computer

Amen!

Packrat

Saguaro Cactus
A saguaro cactus in bloom

As I stand in the garage preparing for a garage sale, I’m feeling overwhelmed by the amount of crap stuff surrounding me.  I’ve never thought of myself as a packrat.  Nope, no hoarder here, but there’s plenty of stuff making for a nice sale.

Ever since our return from our winter RV excursion to the desert southwest, we’ve cleared out closets, emptied the basement, cleaned cabinets in the kitchen, and are now organizing the garage all in preparation to put the house on the market.

Phoenix
Parked at our son’s house in Phoenix, Arizona

Two weeks ago we drove to our son’s home in Phoenix, Arizona, for a long weekend.  We took a trailer load of furniture and knick-knacks to give to our son as well as some items to store in his garage.  It was so nice to be greeted with 80 degree temperatures.  Bring out the shorts and flip-flops….yeah….happy dance!

I was also excited to see the desert in bloom.  I had never personally seen a Saguaro Cactus in bloom until this trip.  The vegetation in my son’s subdivision was alive with color.  The trees were covered in yellow and blue blossoms, the prickly pear were adorned with velvety yellow blooms, and the ocotillos sported a feathery maroon blossom.  I couldn’t help but smile as I strolled the neighborhood.

The guys unloaded the trailer, and I had a blast playing decorator and designer.  I was back in my element, doing something I love.  Son had to calm me down from bringing out the paint supplies or sledge-hammer.  Since it’s his house and his nickel, the remodeling will begin on a much slower schedule than I’m used to.  Ah yes, no loss for a project next winter.

decorating
a little decorating at son’s house

Back to my house, my project, and the term packrat.  Until our winter stay in Arizona, I did not know the “real” meaning of packrat.  I always associated the term with a person who is a hoarder.  Packrats are rodents who are interested in nest-building.  They are nocturnal and will spend their nights scavenging for building materials.  They love the hunt for really cool things that can become part of their nest.  They particularly like shiny objects and are drawn to the chrome on a vehicle.  Oh, and all those yummy wires and engine parts make for wonderful nest-building.

rope lightingDuring our stay at Cave Creek Regional Park, we noticed quite a few RVer’s using rope lighting outside.  The rope lighting was laid on the ground underneath their rig.  Al and I were somewhat perplexed as to why.  Is this some new trend I’m unfamiliar with? On one of my evening strolls around the Gilbert Ray Campground in Tucson, Arizona, I noticed all the camp hosts with lots of rope lighting.  One or two ropes under the RV and then another one or two under their vehicle.  On this same stroll, numerous truck hoods were open or hoods were ajar with a flashlight turned on inside the engine compartment.

It was a cold night and few campers were out and about.  I finally came across a gentleman who was in the process of propping his hood up.  “Excuse me sir.  What’s going on with all the hoods opened”?  He responds in a slight southern drawl, “Packrats, ma’am”.  In a questioning tone, I ask “Packrats?”  “Yes ma’am.  From what I hear, there’s packrats round these here parts.  There’s a full moon tonight and since packrats like it nice and dark, we’re propping our hoods to let the moonlight in.  Some folks use them there rope lights to ward off the packrats”.  As I wave goodbye, I say “Thank you, sir.  Have a good evening”, and rush back to the rig to share this info with hubby.

rope lighting
a camp host uses rope lighting under his truck to ward off packrats

That night we lay a couple of flashlights under the truck for safe measure and the next day we head to Lowe’s and purchase some rope lighting.

Next on our agenda, crawl under the RV and make sure there aren’t any openings.  We already have a can of expanding foam ready to seal the slightest of openings.  No free loading mice or rats allowed in our rig.   I guess this is all part of the adventure.

No packrat of ANY kind allowed in my home……..the purging shall continue!packrat

Worst Dressed?

Spring is my favorite time of year.  It’s a time for new growth and the awakening of plants.  Time to get out the shorts and sandals, plant the garden, and have a backyard barbeque.

Spring in Colorado
This is what spring in Colorado looked like on May 1st

What’s not to love about this time of year?  How about another spring snowstorm in Colorado? Yep, more snow and freezing temperatures graced us on Wednesday.   I guess we’re on a once a week schedule for snowstorms this spring.  Oh, how I long for the flowers to bloom.  flower bloom

Al and I were planning on cleaning the garage during the week, but it was too cold and gloomy.  Instead I turn my lack of productivity to the computer.  I peruse the internet.

fashionWhat’s this?  Worst dressed…… really???  Colorado Springs ranked 2nd on a list of top 10 worst dressed cities in the country…. click here to read all about it.

Let’s face it, fashion is very subjective.  When putting an outfit together, one needs to consider climate (note top picture), environment, activity, is it appropriate, and of course WHERE one lives.

The article focuses on cost. How many high end clothing stores, shoe stores, and jewelry stores there are in a given city, as well as the proximity to fashion and design schools.

Does cost really determine whether a person is well dressed, or in this case worst dressed?  To compare Miami, Florida, to Wichita, Kansas, is like comparing apples to oranges.  No, it’s probably more like comparing apples to cucumbers.  They couldn’t possibly be more different.

Las Vegas won the distinction of having the largest number of high-end shoe stores per capita.  San Francisco and Miami have the largest amount of high-end clothing stores.  If I’m reading this correctly, then the article is basically saying San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Miami rank in the best dressed category versus Wichita, Colorado Springs, and El Paso rank amongst the worst dressed.

Hmm, the more you spend the better dressed you are?  You might see the above expensive shoes while running around Las Vegas and most folks wouldn’t think much of it in that city.  Wear those same shoes in Colorado,  I guarantee an audience, and not in a good way.  Best dressed in those shoes?  Perhaps for the annual Adult Film Festival/Convention held in Las Vegas each year.

A pair of $800 Jimmy Choo Shoes might look awesome and appropriate while meandering The Forum Shops at Ceasar’s Palace, but I question the realistic functionality of wearing such shoes in Colorado Springs let alone Wichita, Kansas.

Ok, I’ll admit those red ones sure are pretty, and when I was younger and living in Chicago, I would’ve wanted those red ones……..forget comfort.  Hmm, I wonder what the other RVer’s would think if I ran around the campground in one of these numbers?  Probably not appropriate for the environment.

I’m not sure I could ever justify the price of a Jimmy Choo Shoe.  And yes, I’ve been known to walk around a store or two trying on a few of these beauties.  Personally I think they are overrated and certainly overpriced.  I’ll stick with my Keen’s.  Although hubby would prefer to see me in one of those high-heeled Jimmy Choo Shoes, especially if price were no object.

Colorado fashion
The perfect Colorado Springs summer outfit.

Colorado Springs is also no stranger to designer labels.  It’s just our sense of fashion comes with labels such as; Columbia, North Face, or Patagonia instead of Prada, Versace, or Michael Kors.

There’s a saying around Colorado, “If you don’t like the weather, hang around for fifteen minutes”….. meaning our weather is ever changing.  Thus, dressing for the environment is crucial.  This isn’t New York City where you can just catch a cab if it starts snowing.   I wonder how those gorgeous red shoes would hold up in a wet, gravel parking lot……and snow?

And we don’t just have hills around here, we have mountains.

Was it fair to compare the various cities?  Does spending boocoo bucks on a pair of shoes or an outfit make you a well dressed individual?  I know I definitely don’t agree with the article.  Money does not translate into being well dressed.  What do you think?

Colorado Fashion
Colorado and Texas fashion? Guarantee these rags cost plenty!