Sunrise – A New Day, a New View

With a strong cup of coffee in hand while watching the sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico … Ah, could there possibly be a better way to start a new day? I know it’s one of my favorites; a strong cup of coffee and a beautiful sunrise.

The dawning of a new day brings about a sense of hope, a sense of new beginnings, a fresh start. All the problems of yesterday are just that – yesterday’s problems.

Sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico

I love watching a beautiful sunrise, but I don’t always love jumping out of the RV so early in the morning in search of those wonderful views. Summer is particularly difficult for me to photograph sunrise considering the sun graces us with her presence so incredibly early in the morning.

It’s too tempting to stay snuggled up in the RV until a more reasonable hour. I guess that’s why I enjoy visiting the Texas Gulf Coast during the winter months. Sunrise is at a more sensible hour and I have no trouble loading up my travel mug with a steaming cup of strong black coffee, tossing the camera in the truck, and heading off in search of capturing an inspiring sunrise photograph. It’s not uncommon for me to be driving along the coast, sipping coffee, long before the sun makes her appearance.

Dock of the Bay

I find these early morning solo excursions to be refreshing. It’s the perfect way to start my day, and I always look forward to our visits to this special place in Texas. I was so looking forward to repeating our usual January – February Texas sojourn, but after much discussion and lots of hemming and hawing, Al and I have decided to stay in Phoenix, Arizona, the entire winter and forgo the Texas journey … this winter, anyway.

I’ll miss those Gulf Coast sunrises, but now I have the challenge of finding the perfect sunrise view in the desert southwest. Hmm, I think I’m up for the photo challenge! If anyone is interested in joining me on a photographic outing in Arizona this winter, please, do reach out … I love company and exploring new locations.

sunrise over the bay

I will miss those coastal views and shore birds, but I look forward to embracing new views, new photographic challenges, and meeting new friends. A new day, a new view, and a new adventure … bring it on!

For this weeks photo challenge, let’s share images of sunrise. Feel free to share a link in the comments below or link back to this page on your own post. I’d love to see your favorite sunrise location.

sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico

Wandering Wednesday –

Each Wednesday I post a different photo prompt / challenge as a way for bloggers to share their love of photography and engage with other like-minded bloggers. Whether you shoot with your phone, a DSLR or something in-between, don’t be shy, share and connect 🤗

Upcoming prompt –  Zoo …. get out and shoot or peruse those archives!

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365 Best Inspirational Quotes: Daily Motivation For Your Best Year Ever

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A Popular Trail in Zion

When Ashton and I chose Zion National Park as the destination for our road trip, I had only two requests …  stop at the Zion Lodge and hike the trail that was accessed across from the lodge. Other than that, I left it all up to daughter. Sure, I’d offer my input, but ultimately, we’d do and see whatever she would like.Zion National Park

Back in the early to mid nineties, we lived in Las Vegas, Nevada for a few years, and it’s an easy two and a half hour drive from Las Vegas to Zion National Park. While living in Las Vegas, Al and I visited Zion once with the kids in tow and later I revisited with a girlfriend. Both times, I overnighted at the Zion Lodge in one of the rustic cabins. The buildings themselves are unassuming, but the huge green lawn accompanied by a bunch of benches left an indelible impression upon me. A visitor can sit, and admire the soaring canyon walls …

Zion wildlifeAs I sat on one of those benches looking up, I remember feeling awed by the beauty around me. This former flatlander from Illinois was overwhelmed with the unique and stunning landscape.

Today, I was equally awed, if not more so. I’m not sure if it’s my age or the fact that I’m able to travel leisurely on regular basis, but there was a relaxed calmness about me that allowed me to savor the scenery along with each experience and hike I accomplished.Zion National Park

As any parent knows, traveling with small children is a huge distraction which I’m sure had an impact on my first visit to Zion. This go around was different. Instead of me, the mom, constantly concerned about the where abouts and antics of a six-year old and four-year old, my adult daughter was the one in charge and it was her responsibility to keep me (dear old mom) from getting into trouble. No easy task 😆  This new-found lack of responsibility on my part was oh so fun!

Zion National ParkAfter our Riverside Walk, we took the shuttle bus back down the canyon to the Zion Lodge and bought a couple of lattes at the cafe.

We found a bench near the large grass lawn and sat in silence while sipping our coffee. The last time my daughter and I sat here, she was four years old. Wow, how those twenty-three years seemed to have whizzed by!

Not only was I awed by the majestic landscape surrounding me, I was equally awed by the young lady sitting next to me. What a beautiful, caring and successful person my daughter has become. A mom can’t ask for much more!

With our energy boosted from the caffeinated coffees and a stop at the Zion Lodge checked off my list, it was time for a little more nostalgia. I wasn’t sure which trail hubby and I took with the kids all those years ago, but I was pretty sure the trail head was near the Zion Lodge, which meant it had to be the Emerald Pools Trail. What I do remember as the highlight of that day for our family of four was walking behind a waterfall. Thus, Ashton and I were off in search of that waterfall.

Emerald Pools Trail Zion National Park

Walking behind a waterfall – Emerald Pools Trail

Yep, I found the right trail and memories flooded back. It was every bit as entertaining during this visit as it was all those years ago, even though the amount of water falling was light in comparison.

The Emerald Pools Trail is a collection of short trails that meander past a small, lushly vegetated stream that rolls down from the cliffs and forms several interesting pools. Since the trail head is located across the street from the Zion Lodge making it easily accessible, the Emerald Pools trail is one of the most popular trails in Zion National Park. With that in mind, we weren’t surprised we encountered plenty of other hikers on the trail, but even though we had to share the trail, it was still worth the hike.

Emerald Pools

The beginning of the Emerald Pools trail hike

Emerald Pools

We did the entire hike from the lower pools to the upper pools, which is about 3 miles round trip. The last stretch to the upper pools was the most difficult, partly due to the number of other hikers on the trail and partly because of the elevation gain.

Zion National Park

Interesting scenery along the trail

Emerald Pools

Traffic jam at the upper pools. When they say this trail is popular, they aren’t kidding!

Emerald Pools Trail Zion National Park

This was a lovely hike that we enjoyed, but personally, I liked the super easy Riverside Walk Trail a little more. Not because it was easy (well, maybe) but because it offered open views of the soaring canyon walls, the rushing Virgin River, and of course, those lush hanging gardens. The Emerald Pools trail is more about the waterfalls and pools of water. The trail to the lower pool is rated easy, but as the trail climbs to the middle pool and eventually upper pool, it gets a little more difficult which is why this stretch is considered moderate.

From the Zion Lodge to the Upper Pool there’s a 350 foot elevation gain. It’s about 3 miles round trip. Plan around 2 hours – depending on photo stops.

Next up, we’re in search of more stunning scenery, and we’ll tackle the hike of all hikes … our epic hike ….

Zion National Park

Virgin River – Zion National Park

Wildlife, Views, and Friendships

Bighorn SheepRocky Mountain National ParkAlas, our five glorious days spent at Rocky Mountain National Park had come to an end.

Hubby and I were definitely not ready to leave and since the campground was only half full, we figured if we really wanted to extend our stay at the Glacier Basin Campground, we probably could.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Time to move on!

Rocky Mountain National Park

The view from our campsite… weather approaching

But as we were enjoying our morning coffee, we watched the wall of weather move ever more closely toward our camp. That was our cue that it was indeed time to move on. That sky looked nasty and I assure you a dusting of snow that third week of August was not out of the question.

Rocky Mountain National Park

leaving Glacier Basin Campground before the bad weather hits

We arrived back at the Westminster Elks Lodge and set up residency in ‘our’ spot. The camp host informed us some folks arrived the previous day asking about us.  Hmm, were these blog followers or folks we’d already met somewhere along our travels?  Turns out both.

Rocky Mountain National ParkWe met Bob and Kathy a couple of winters ago at Lost Dutchman State Park in Arizona. We were RV newbies with our new fifth wheel and had been on a six week road trip.  We credit Kathy for fixing our TV.

You see, no matter what we tried or who we asked, we couldn’t get any reception with the RV antenna.  That is until Kathy asked, “Did you push the little button and get a green light”.  Say what?  Ah ha, all this time Al and I had been focused on the living room area around our one and only TV and the magic button was located in a cabinet in the bedroom.  There sure is a learning curve to this RVing thing but once learned, you don’t forget 😉

We had a great time visiting with this couple and swapping travel tales before it was time for them to hit the road and start their slow meander back to Phoenix, AZ.  You can read about how we met Bob and Kathy here.

Rocky Mountain National Park

As beautiful as the mountains are… the weather can get ugly. Check out that wall of dark clouds… Thunder, lightening, wind, rain, AND snow 😦

Although the Elks campground facility has worked out beautifully this summer allowing us to park close to our daughters place, it isn’t the most scenic and I’m all about the views.  I’m happiest when I have lovely scenery around me and if we get to park near water to boot…. well let’s just say, I’m in my element.

Rocky Mountains

Marmot – Rocky Mountain National Park

So when I heard fellow blogger LuAnn was going to be camped just north of Denver at the St. Vrain State Park which has mountain views AND ponds, I couldn’t make a reservation fast enough, even if for just a few days….

coffee with a view

I enjoy morning coffee and a sunrise at St. Vrain State Park, Colorado

Keurig K130/B130 Brewing System

 

Crested Butte

Hubby and I always look forward to visiting one of our favorite Colorado mountain towns.  Our friends are just as much a fan of Crested Butte, Colorado, as are we, but it’s been years since they last visited this well-known ski town.  Crested Butte isn’t just known for its awesome skiing…..it is considered the birth place of mountain biking.  Now I’m sure there’s some folks that might disagree, but keep in mind, I’m just repeating the Crested Butte information that I’ve read.Crested Butte

WildflowersThis quaint little mountain town is also home to the Wildflower Festival held each July when the mountain meadows are covered in blooms. Hubby and I visited this area last year for exactly that reason.  However, 2012 brought very little moisture to Colorado; producing drought conditions and a poor showing of blooms….so we were told.  The locals – from shop keepers, to wait staff, to city workers – all apologized for the poor display of wildflowers and encouraged us to revisit.  Ok….twist my arm!

So revisit we shall and we can’t wait to share the day with our friends.  Last year’s trip was a lot of fun even though the showing of wildflowers wasn’t spectacular.  I was indeed a very happy camper.  You can read about our 2012 tenting adventure in Crested Butte here.

On last year’s trip, we discovered a great little place for breakfast called McGill’s.  Al and I knew any return trip to Crested Butte would include a stop at McGill’s for breakfast.  With our friends in tow and tummies gurgling, we arrived at McGill’s for a late breakfast around 9 a.m.  First order of business – coffee.  They serve the yummiest coffee, roasted right there in Crested Butte.

Camp 4 Coffee is a locally owned coffee shop and roaster.  Before heading out of town, we purchased a couple of pounds of the “Sledgehammer” roast.  McGill’s serves the “Blue Mesa” blend which Al really enjoys….and he’s not normally a coffee drinker, but he is at McGill’s.wildflower

With tummies full and plenty of coffee to keep us zinging for a few hours, we’re off to explore the backcountry.  We head north past Mount Crested Butte and toward the town of Gothic.  Our goal today was Emerald Lake.  Last year we never made it to the lake because traffic was too heavy for our liking.  The Wildflower Festival brings folks in from around the world, thus tourists everywhere.Gothic

Crested Butte

Our trip today was perfect…..perfect weather, few tourists, and enjoyable company.  The road got a little rough in spots, but nothing my Toyota couldn’t handle.  We enjoy our photo op at Emerald Lake then meander our way back to our camp at Blue Mesa.Emerald Lake

Cows

ChipmunkI wrote three posts last year with a little more information on Crested Butte and the surrounding area.  Feel free to check out the posts starting here.

Once again, we did not get our fill of the area and Al and I vow to return again next summer.  I believe our friends share our sentiment and are ready to return with a moments notice.