Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Our trek continued deeper into Golden Gate Canyon State Park.  This park is located about 16 miles northwest of the town of Golden and less than an hours drive from downtown Denver, yet feels miles and miles away from anything.Golden Gate Canyon State Park

While driving Mountain Base Road, we had stopped at several of the picnic – trailhead pull-outs to take in our surroundings.  Hubby was loving the pine scented air while I was ogling the mountain wildflowers.

Colorado State Parks
95% of the park has paved roads. This is the road to Aspen Meadow Campground

Next stop; the campgrounds.  We drove through the Reverend’s Ridge Campground checking out the sites.  Since it’s located in a pine forest there aren’t any mountain views from the campsites, but the large paved sites make up for any lack of view.  This campground is laid out beautifully offering sites with electric geared toward RV’s and none electric sites exclusive to tents.  The tent sites have nice level pads.

Colorado State Parks
A drive thru site in loop E

Camping fees are $22.00 a night with electric and $18.00 a night for non-electric.  Since this is a Colorado State Park there’s an additional vehicle fee; either $7.00 a day or the yearly pass for $70.00.  Al and I always get the yearly pass for both trucks, which allows us unlimited access to all Colorado State Parks.  The pass is vehicle specific and is applied to the windshield.  The second vehicle is charged a reduced rate and there’s a discount for those of a certain age.  Yep, hubby qualifies for the ‘Aspen Leaf’ which also saves us $2.00 a night on camping fees.  Ah, an upside to being old… LOL.  Shhh, don’t tell him I said that 😉

Colorado State Parks
another site in loop E

I’d say the RV sites are long enough for any size RV.  My only concern would be the width in regards to all the trees and RV slides, mostly those RV’s with opposing slides. But with a little strategic maneuvering, I’m sure she’ll fit.

That said, this is a campground Al and I would really enjoy staying at, but be warned….. there is no cell phone or internet coverage…. nada, zilch, nil.  Consider this time to walk away from the ‘devices’ and enjoy all this gorgeous scenery.Golden Gate

This little girl proudly carries a caught fish over to her dad
This little girl proudly carries a caught fish over to her dad

There’s nearly 35 miles of hiking trails within the State Park.  Some of the trails are for hikers only and others are multiple use: hiking, biking, horseback riding.  Fishing is allowed in any stream or pond within the park, but does require a Colorado fishing license.

I was particularly interested in the park’s brochure: Discovering Historic Places.  This part of Colorado is rich in mining history dating back to the 1800’s.  The Golden Gate Canyon State Park offers hiking trails to the remains of some former homesteads.

On our hike to Dude's Fishing Hole we pass the remains of The Belcher Barn on the left
Al and I opt for a quick hike to Dude’s Fishing Hole and along the way we pass the remains of The Belcher Barn.  This hay barn was built in the 1890’s.

Another trail we hope to hike would take us past The Bootlegger’s Cabin. There are no records of when the cabin was built or by whom.  The fact that barrel hoops and coiled copper tubing were found nearby leads one to believe that this was probably a shelter for bootleggers making illegal whiskey during the 1920’s.Bootlegger

Golden Gate Canyon State Park is definitely a great place to camp with a lot to see and do not only within the park but within an hours drive in any direction from the park.  Downtown Denver is easily accessed via vehicle or for those anti city drivers, the Light Rail can be taken from the station in Golden.  Golden offers its own array of fun stuff which I’ve blogged about in the past. You can read about it here and here.

The town of Boulder isn’t far from Golden Gate Canyon State Park via Highway 72. Rocky Mountain National Park is a scenic one hour plus drive to the north and Mt. Evans is a one hour drive to the south.

Fishing in Colorado
Dude’s Fishing Hole

Just remember, this is Colorado and that means the roads go up, down, and sideways….. miles are irrelevant, it’s all about how much time it takes to get from point A to point B and whether one needs Dramamine or has a fear of heights.

Welcome to my little slice of paradise!Colorado State Parks
Coleman Deck Chair With Table

From plan A to plan B

We were out the door by 6:30 Saturday morning.  I had packed us a picnic lunch, threw sweatshirts in the backseat of the little truck, and had our route all planned out.  We stopped for gas to top off the tank.  I always like starting out with a full tank of gas before embarking into virgin territory especially when heading into the mountains.

The drive into the mountains via Interstate 70 west out of Denver went smoothly. Although, there did appear to be more traffic than one might expect at this time of the morning.Mt. Evans

The day’s destination was Mt. Evans.  My daughter and I visited Mt. Evans last year and I was eager to share the scenery with hubby.  As soon as we exited the interstate in the town of Idaho Springs, I knew something was up; there were way too many pedestrians and cyclists for this time of the morning.

Mt. EvansA mere mile north on Highway 103 and my fears were confirmed…..  a cycling event  and therefore the highest paved road in North America was closed for the event.  Bummer!  Looks like we won’t be taking highway 5 to the top of Mt. Evans 😦

However, I’ll admit I wasn’t too terribly disappointed as the weather didn’t appear very agreeable; gloomy skies and cold temps with storms threatening.  We definitely would’ve needed those sweatshirts especially at the top of Mt. Evans; 14,265 feet in elevation.

That’s the thing about Colorado, if you don’t like the weather in one spot you can drive a mere thirty minutes in another direction and go from 80 degrees Fahrenheit to a cool 50 degrees and Saturday mornings temps near Mt. Evans were closer to that 50 number than the 80…. burrrr.  It’s been hovering in the 90’s all week in Denver so this felt very chilly to me and my bare legs.Mt. Evans

Oh well, since plan A didn’t work out it’s onto plan B.  I had never driven Highway 103 from Echo Lake to the town of Evergreen; an alternate route for picking up Highway 5 up to Mt. Evans. The last thing we wanted to do was drive back the way we came knowing the event congestion would just increase with every minute.

Colorado State ParksWe were so glad we ventured via this route.  The scenery was beautiful and the road was in excellent condition.

We even detected some possible boondocking locations.  We’ll need to check with the Arapahoe National Forest for the rules and any other pertinent information.  We know we’ll attempt a return visit to Mt. Evans sometime in the next few weeks and this is the route we’ll take….  I-70 to 74 to 103/66 to 5

It was only 8:00 in the morning with our plans for the day foiled. I just couldn’t bring myself to return home.  I had to think of a place for a picnic……..

Last week, I received a question from a blog follower wanting to know if I’ve ever been to Golden Gate Canyon State Park.  I knew exactly where this park was located.  We’ve spent some time over the past two summers camped around Denver and I had every intention of previously checking out this State Park, but never got around to it.  Her inquiry was just the nudge I needed to explore, as my interest was equally piqued.  The next day, with camera in hand, I explored Golden Gate Canyon State Park and immediately knew I needed to show this place to hubby.Golden Gate Canyon State Park

So here we were, driving back towards Denver on a Saturday morning after our failed attempt to visit Mt. Evans with an unopened picnic basket when Golden Gate Canyon State Park pops into my mind.  I wanted hubby to see this park anyway, thus this was the perfect opportunity.Colorado State Parks

From the town of Golden we headed north on highway 93 then turned west on 46.  We meandered along this 2 lane curvy road at about 30 mph dodging weekend cyclists here and there (Coloradans love their outdoor activities – share the road!).  After about sixteen miles, we turned onto a small road heading toward the campgrounds.  Mountain Base Road has a 19% grade and some switchbacks.  Therefore, RV’s of any kind aren’t allowed and need to stay on highway 46 and continue to 119 to access the Reverend’s Ridge Campground.Golden Gate Canyon State Park

As we slowly made our way deeper into the state park, we stopped at several trailheads to take notes for future hikes.  The road was lined with wildflowers which had me wanting to savor the moment.  Al was lost in his own thoughts as he was deeply inhaling the scent of the pine forest.Golden Gate Canyon State ParkPine trees, Aspen trees, snow capped mountains in the distance, endless hiking trails, and wildflowers…. yep, the perfect place for a picnic.  But first we wanted to check out the campground.

Would this be a place we’d like to stay?  Stay tuned…..
Coleman Broadband Quad Chair with Cooler, Red

Eat Clean, Train Dirty

Our daughter, Ashton, along with a couple of friends signed up for a 5K. This was our daughter’s first 5K and she seemed a tad nervous as to what she might have gotten herself into because this wasn’t just any 5K. Nope, this was a “mud run”.

Survivor Mud Run 5K
Stephanie, Sarah, daughter Ashton BEFORE the run
5K Survivor Mud Run
Stephanie, Ashton, and Sarah checking out one of the obstacles prior to start

The Survivor Mud Run is a 5K run plus obstacle course. Most of these obstacles entail a series of ropes, tunnels, or slides through water and mud.Survivor Mud Run 5Ksurvivor mud run 5K obstacle courseThis is more of a social 5K than a competitive event. Teams seem to coordinate their attire. Our girls went with a lime green shirt – Eat Clean, Train Dirty!

5K mud run ColoradoSome go to the extent of a pseudo type of costume; wearing anything from tutu’s, to superman t-shirts, or even a kilt – check out the guy in the photo above, on the right.

This sixty year old high school teacher from Boulder is covered in royal blue from head to toe and sporting a kilt for added character.  According to his wife (we happen to be spectators standing next to each other) if there’s a 5K or 10K happening anywhere near Denver, he’s in!

It took my gals about an hour and a half to complete the course.  They had a fun time and would do it again in a heart beat.

Ashton did end up sporting a couple of scrapes and bruises, but nothing that would stop her from competing again.

5K Survivor mud runAfter the gals crossed the finish line, they couldn’t contain their glee and it was hugs all around.mud run

survivor mud runAnd to think, I thought I’d be able to walk away unscathed.5K survivor mud run
ASICS Women’s Gel-Kayano 19 Running Shoe,Lightning/Turquoise/Iris,8 M US

Discovering Denver

It was a warm and sunny Sunday morning and traffic around Denver, Colorado, was light; one of the main reasons we chose a Sunday to explore downtown Denver.  We didn’t have any real set schedule in mind, just a desire to meander around the city.

Cathedral BasilicaEven though we’ve called Colorado home for nearly twenty years, doesn’t mean we’ve spent much time in Denver.  As a matter of fact, we’ve spent very little time in this lovely city.

Having lived a two-hour drive south of Denver, traffic conditions and a firm schedule always kept us from slowly exploring this city.  It was always hurry up, tend to business, and get back on the road before rush hour traffic or before the weather turns for the worse making traffic that much more challenging.  Yep, always in a hurry.

The beauty of staying camped in one location for a while is we get to slow things down.  If the skies are threatening to let loose, we can stay put in our cozy little RV and move the plans to the next day.  Fortunately, Colorado offers up plenty of gorgeous sunshine and thus opportunity to explore.  With our home parked only a twenty minute drive from downtown Denver, we have no excuse not to explore this city in a leisurely manner.REI flagship store

After reviewing my trusty little book – Moon Colorado (Moon Handbooks)I chose REI to be the first stop of the day. The REI Denver Flagship store can be easily seen from Interstate 25 and is located across from Confluence Park where Cherry Creek meets the South Platte River.  The 90,000 square foot building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.REI flagship store Denver

REI flaship store
REI flagship store

The building was once home to the Denver Tramway Powerhouse.  The Denver Tramway Company built electric streetcar lines in Denver.  The Denver Tramway Powerhouse was built-in 1901 to house boilers and engines used to generate electricity for the rail system.outdoor recreation in Colorado

As the automobile gained popularity, electric rail lines were removed from the streets of Denver and the Denver Tramway Powerhouse was closed in 1950.  The building was then used as a warehouse and later as a museum.  In 1998 REI (Recreational Equipment Inc.) purchased the building and after an extensive renovation the store opened to the public in 2000.REI Denver The REI Denver Flagship Store includes bike trails, a 45 foot tall indoor climbing wall, outdoor climbing features, and outdoor trails that wind through native plants and water features.  On the main floor there’s a huge Starbucks with indoor and outdoor seating and the third floor offers a cute jungle gym to entertain kids.  And let’s not forget about all the great products an outdoor enthusiast could ask for.REII would not normally classify a store on a sightseeing list, but this REI is an exception.  Al and I found ourselves meandering around the REI store; inside and outside, for a couple of hours.REI

views to admire!

While I was admiring the architecture, Al was admiring the views.

Yep, I’d say this REI has something for everyone and is a must see stop for anyone visiting Denver, Colorado.

And on another note ….. It’s obvious Coloradans love their outdoor activities.  The Rocky Mountains offer a beautiful backdrop to the city of Denver and are a short drive away offering endless recreational possibilities.  Colorado also offers plenty of festivals, 5K’s, professional sporting events, concerts, and abundant breweries to entertain just about anyone’s interest.

But above all are the folks that love living in Colorado and appreciate all that it has to offer.  That said, these folks discovered a unique way to commute to work.  Instead of bike to work day, they’ve come up with Tube to work day. (be sure and click on the blue link for more photos and a video)  How funny is this?  Hope those suits were machine washable!REI
TETON Sports Trailrunner 2.0 Hydration Backpack w/ Bladder (16.5″x 10.5″x .7″, Black)


Opposite Ends

RVingLast month we attended a beautiful outdoor wedding held at the bride’s parents mountain home.  We only knew two people in attendance at that event; our daughter and the bride.

There was a time in my life when I was considered ‘shy’.  Ok …. all of you fellow bloggers and RVer’s out there that have met me, you can stop laughing – I’m serious, I used to be very shy!  That said, there’s something about this RVing lifestyle that brings most people out of their shells.

So here we were at this wedding mingling.  It was time for dinner. We entered the reception area somewhat early and picked an empty table.  There was open seating; no assigned table for us to sit at.  About fifteen minutes later, a party of five approached and asked, “Do you mind if we join you?”  Hmm, interesting accent I thought as I said, “Please, do”.  This family of five were relatives of the groom from the country of Holland.  There was the dad, his daughter and her Italian boyfriend, the dad’s sister and her daughter.  They all spoke English very well.

Shortly there after another couple joined us filling out our round table.  Polite conversion ensued over dinner and drinks.  In some circumstances, hubby and I will circumvent the subject of us living in our RV full-time. We had the best of intentions to keep that tidbit of information to ourselves that day, but the Dutch daughter and her Italian boyfriend had so much interest in traveling around America that they kept asking us questions.  Finally we admitted, “We live in our RV and travel full-time”.

living a dream RVing
Home sweet home – boondocking in the Arizona desert

I thought the young Italian guy was going to fly out of his seat upon hearing this.  With extreme exuberance and out stretched arms as if to embrace us, he proclaimed, “No way …. you are living my dream.  Seriously, you are living my dream”.  The young couple began bombarding us with questions all the while sporting huge smiles and an excited tone they just couldn’t keep contained.

my backyard RVing
This was my backyard for 2 weeks near Moab, Utah

Somewhere during this cheerful, excited exchange, the gal sitting to my right asked, “Did I hear you say you live in your RV?”  I happily responded, “Yes, it’s been a year since we moved into the RV full-time”.  With a sympathetic look she said, “Oh, I’m sorry.  Did the economy get you?”  I’m well past feeling a need to defend my lifestyle and politely responded, “No, it wasn’t the economy – it was a desire for adventure, a desire to live that lead us to moving into the RV full-time”.

Canyonlands Utah
Hmm, do I look unhappy?

Talk about opposite ends of the spectrum.  One minute we’re ‘living the dream’, and the next we’re ‘living a nightmare’.  Both comments seemed to make me cringe because I feel I’m not living either.  I’m merely living life ……. my way or rather OUR way (hubby is living it too LOL).  There are days it is a dream and days it is a nightmare, but most of the time it’s somewhere in between.dreamy lifestyle

When the stars are aligned it’s a dream;

  • camping among stunning scenery and wildlife
  • no trouble finding a beautiful spot to call home for a while
  • plenty of room for us to park at no fee or at least a reasonable fee
  • good road conditions
  • no neighbors or wonderful neighbors
  • each day is a new adventure
  • agreeable weather  …..    I think you get the idea


Lake Powell
One of my favorite places. Can you see my home?

But what about those days that just seem to fall apart?  Nothing seems to go right. This lifestyle can easily turn into a nightmare;

  • Blown tires or other roadside break downs really suck and can be quite scary
  • Full campgrounds …. no room at the inn.  Oh dear, wherever shall we park?
  • RV Parks that have you packed in like sardines and charge exorbitant rates
  • RV mechanical issues – water lines, heater, jacks, slides, leaks, etc.
  • Medical issues – when I got severely ill last February, I broke down and just wanted to go home.  I had no home to go back to.  I was ‘home’.
  • Learning new towns – Always in search of shopping, Laundromats, restaurants (this is not a negative for me – I embrace the search)
  • Being away from family and friends (hehe, this one could also fit under ‘dream’)

Yep, this is life whether one lives in a sticks n bricks home or in a RV.  Living the full-time RV lifestyle is not one big long vacation, some panacea.   Although that sure would be nice?  Bills still need to be paid.  There’s still household chores that need to be addressed.  There’s still plenty of pros and cons and it’s not for everyone.

Am I glad we embarked upon this journey?  Absolutely!  For us it’s working just fine so far, but we did sample the lifestyle before jumping in full-time. Plus, Al and I have always bored easily and embrace change.  We’ve always had a sense of wanderlust and could never image ourselves living in the same house or neighborhood for years and years even though we grew up that way.  We love exploring new territory and meeting new folks.

living life to it's fullest
Yep, this is one happy camper!

We didn’t plan out this adventure years in advance. We didn’t purchase our RV with the intent of living in it full-time. The events quickly evolved.  Al and I made the decision to sell the house while spending the 2012/13 winter snowbirding.  We found ourselves embarking on the RV full-time lifestyle 4 months after deciding to so and we haven’t looked in a RV

Do I miss having a sticks n bricks house?  Not yet.  Besides, I’m not sure where I would want that house to be located.  I guess that’s why we’ll keep traveling and see if there’s some place that ‘feels like home’.  For now, ‘home is where we park it’.whooping cranesTo move, to breathe, to fly, to float, to gain all while you give. To roam the roads of lands remote, to travel is to LIVE – Hans Christian Anderson

Picnic at Ascot 2 Bottle Insulated Tote, Black
1,000 Places to See in the United States and Canada Before You Die, updated ed.

Alternative Options

We’ve hit our one year anniversary of moving into the RV full-time.  It’s been an eventful and enlightening year.  But before I post a recap of our highs and lows of the year, and oh yes, there were plenty of lows, I’d like to share where we’re currently camped and the best part of this lifestyle; the new folks we meet everyday.

Al and I have come to realize there’s a common bond amongst RVer’s and a willingness to share or help.  We share tales of our travels via our blogs, over drinks, and through our photos  We share favorite campgrounds and those to shy away from.  And then we share the places to camp that require thinking outside the box; a friends driveway, boondocking in the wilderness, parking lots, and organizations with camping facilities.Fred Flinstone Water BuffaloIt was through new friends that we met via the Escapees RV Club that we learned about parking at Elks Lodges.  Al and I went into research mode and started the membership process during our winter stay in Phoenix, Arizona.

Elks Lodge Flinstone Water BuffaloAl was unanimously approved and is officially an “Elk” which opens up alternative options of places for us to park the RV.

Lodges located in major cities rarely have room for RV’s while other lodges, especially in the west, actually have an onsite RV Park complete with hook-ups.

Most offer the ability to park in the parking lot and some of these lots even have electric hook-up.  Each lodge facility has varying amenities, but most lodges have a restaurant, bar, and the friendliest folks around.

We’ve been happily camped at the Elks Lodge in Westminster, Colorado, for the past three weeks – just 15 minutes northwest of downtown Denver.  Our daughter lives only 5 minutes away, allowing lots of visits with mom and dad.  This mama is a very happy camper being able to see her ‘favorite’ daughter on a regular basis.happy camper Elks LodgeAside from regular visits with our daughter, we’ve had the pleasure of socializing with neighbors, bloggers, and fellow Elks members.Camping options in Devner Colorado

The Westminster Elks Lodge does have an onsite RV Park with different types of hook-ups.  They have everything from full-hook ups (sewer, water, electric) to electric and water, to their temporary sites offering electric only.  The later is where we find ourselves camped.

Our original plan was to stay here for ten days.  However, we seem to keep extending that stay.  We’ve had several opportunities to move to a site with full hook-ups, but Al and I are content with our level parking lot site with electric only.  We don’t normally like camping in a sardine can scenario, but the pluses FOR US seem to be outweighing the minuses.  Gosh, how many options does one have to park a RV in a major city like Denver?  So, no complaints here.  That said, I’m not sure how much longer we’ll stay …. perhaps until the daughter says, “Isn’t it time for you guys to move on?”

Geeks on TourDid I already mention the nicest folks we’ve been meeting?  Last week Jim and Chris from the blog Geeks on Tour pulled in just a site over from us.  We’ve enjoyed visiting with them and they even gave me a copy of their book; Beginners Guide to Picasa.

Thank you …. it’s enlightened me on a few features I didn’t know about.  Now I’ll be checking into a few of their other products.  Perhaps they can enlighten me further on the use of my phone that’s too ‘smart’ for me LOL.

Geeks on TourGeeks on Tour

Then there’s fellow Coloradans, Rick and JoAnne of Rick and JoAnne’s RV Travels.  We shared a very enjoyable luncheon visit just days before they were heading out for Yellowstone National Park.  We’ve also taken the opportunity to reconnect with some long time friends that live along the Front Range

And then of course are the every day meet ups with the folks coming and going.  The Elks Lodge restaurant and bar makes it very convenient for congregating and socializing over drinks during happy hour.  Keep those $3.50 margaritas coming!bike trails wildlifeWe do have plans to stop socializing and drinking just enough to get out and about to take in some of the sights.  For now, here’s a couple of photos snapped while enjoying the bicycle trail that passes right by the Elks Lodge ……Denver bike trail wildlife

Wildflowers Elks Lodge RV Parks
P.S. Here’s my latest RV kitchen purchase – a collapsible salad spinner …. now why didn’t I think of that?

Prepworks from Progressive International CSS-1 Collapsible 4-Quart Salad Spinner

Isn’t romance wonderful?

romantic weddingsLove is in the air!  Did you know June is one of the most popular months to get married?  I know, I know….. it’s July 1st and I’m posting about June weddings.  What can I say – I’ve been a busy gal.  So let’s talk about June weddings and why June is such a popular month to wed.

One popular myth; most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good by June. However, since they were starting to smell …….

Brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet of fresh flowers when getting Married.romantic themed weddings

romantic themed outdoor wedding

Or perhaps a nicer reason might have to do with an ancient Roman goddess named Juno. Juno was the Roman goddess of marriage. For this reason, many Romans chose to honor her by tying the knot in June. Like a lot of traditions, this one seemed to stick.

romantic outdoor weddingAnother possible reason couples often married in June; so they could time the conception of their first child. It was important that the wife wouldn’t be too far along in her pregnancy to perform the manual labor required during harvest time. Romantic, eh?

Hubby and I walked down the aisle in June over thirty years ago.  Yep, I was a June bride……. but I can assure you I bathed the day of the wedding and even bathed the day before.

Since I’m not a Roman, I didn’t feel a need to honor the Roman Goddess Juno.  AND since I was definitely a city gal at the time, agriculture and harvesting bore no scheduling in my reproductive endeavors.

MY reason for wanting to be a June bride was based strictly on weather.  Not that the weather in Chicago is ever predictable, but June seemed to put the odds in our favor for a successful outdoor wedding.  Yes sir-reeee, it was a perfect day and perfect wedding.

All of the above photos are of Al and me 31 years ago.  Where has the time gone?bride wears cowboy boots

It’s time for the next generation.  Time for the twenty something’s to plan their own perfect day.Colorado outdoor wedding

My daughter’s best friend chose to wed in June also and although I can’t attest to HER reasons for choosing to be a June bride, I’d venture a guess and say her decision was most likely based in regards to weather.  Hmm, she did carry a large, lovely bouquet of fresh flowers that smelled wonderful 😉

Even though the day proved to be overcast, it was non the less a perfect day, amongst perfect surroundings, and a perfectly beautiful wedding.Colorado outdoor weddingThe event took place in the brides parent’s backyard in Conifer, Colorado.  And in true Colorado form, the bride and her bridesmaids all wore cowboy boots.Colorado mountain themed weddingAl and I were thrilled to be included in the celebration.  It brought back such found memories.  Although we’re not ready to walk our lovely daughter down the aisle just yet, it was fun watching her in the role of bridesmaid.

We wish the happy couple many, many years of joy, love, and happiness!
romantic Colorado

The Complete Outdoor Wedding Planner: From Rustic Settings to Elegant Garden Parties, Everything You Need to Know to Make Your Day Special

Trademark Innovations Portable Event Canopy Tent, 10 x 10-Feet