Catching up

First off, allow me to extend a heart-felt thank you to all of you who commented on my last post.  I appreciate your warm thoughts beyond words and hope Rhonda and family have found some comfort in them as well.  Rhonda wrote a final post sharing Wayne’s last days and a selfless act.  That post can be viewed here for anyone interested.  Thank you again for your care, concern, and friendship.


With Moab in the rear view mirror, it wasn’t long before we pulled into site #3 at the James M. Robb State Park Campground near Grand Junction, Colorado.  We really enjoy staying here and since we pass through Grand Junction regularly this has become our go to stop for spending a few days while in the area.

Colorado State Parks
Colorado National Monument

Colorado State ParksThe stunning Colorado National Monument acts as a beautiful backdrop to the James M. Robb State Park…. a sight that never gets old.

During our ten-day stay, we had a couple of things to tend to, but most importantly a lot of catching up to do.  You see, my brother and his wife live in Grand Junction, and a year had passed since our last visit.

Fruita Colorado
James M. Robb State Park, Fruita, Colorado

First on the agenda was dinner with brother and sis-in-law, which became a recurring event during our stay.  Yum, is all I have to say as sis-in-law is a great cook.  Unfortunately, due to the combination of my brother’s work schedule and the ever fickle weather, we weren’t able to take any memorable hikes together during this visit.  You can click here to read about one of our epic hikes a couple of years ago.  The thought of that hike still makes me laugh.Colorado National Monument

It’s impossible not to explore the “Monument” and for any first time visitor I would highly recommend the 23 mile Rim Rock Road scenic drive.  The road takes you to the top of the mesa with numerous scenic overlooks giving a visitor a bird’s eye view of some spectacular scenery.

After taking in the scenery from the car, next up is hitting the trails.  One of my all time favorite hikes was one I did with my sister-in-law almost 2 years ago and ever since then, I’ve wanted to share that trail with hubby.hiking in Colorado

So on our first rain free day, Al and I set out around nine in the morning to tackle the Lower Monument Canyon Trail.Colorado National Monument

After a 2 1/2 mile trek, we found ourselves at the base of the stunning 450 foot tall monolith named Independence Monument; our destination.  The post from the hike with my sister-in-law offers a little more info.  If interested, you can click here.

Colorado National Weather
We were down in that canyon at the base of the Independence Monument – rock monolith
Colorado National Monument
Al on the trail ahead of me returning to the trailhead

Colorado National MonumentAfter spending a little time taking in the sight of the beautiful canyon, we retraced our tracks back to the trailhead making for a great 5 mile hike.

Colorado breweryToward the end of our stay, we met Mike and Linda for lunch at the Edgewater Brewery and on our last evening we met Pam and John for a quick bite at Suds Brother’s Brewery.

Let’s see….. we took care of a couple of scheduled appointments, took in the fantastic scenery, got in some exercise, visited with family AND visited a couple of brew pubs with fellow bloggers.

All in all, it was a great visit to western Colorado.  Now it’s time to move on.  I have a feeling there could be a little more social gatherings in our near future.  You never know who we’ll bump into in Denver this summer!Colorado National Monument

Grand Junction Hiking Guide (The Pruett Series)

I recently started a food blog called “Dally in the Galley”
Feel free to stop byclick here

Photo Challenge: Monument

When Friday’s photo challenge popped up and the subject was “monument”, I knew I had to post photos of Independence Monument.  Next week we’ll be back in Colorado and the Colorado National Monument will once again be in our backyard.

photo challenge monument
photo taken from the scenic Rim Rock Road. The town of Grand Junction seen in the distance

This monolith called ‘Independence Monument’ is probably the most photographed subject in the Colorado National Monument.  Every 4th of July, rock climbers scale this rock and erect an American Flag.colorado independence monumentLast summer, my sister-in-law and I hiked to the base of Independence Monument, something I had been wanting to do for a long time.  You can read about that 5 mile hike here.independence monument photo challengeYep, I’m looking forward to hiking in “the Monument” again real soon :-)hiking in colorado photo challengeFYI…..I’m not sure why I have ads popping up on my photos, but my apologies and I’m looking into it.  Next post, we’re back to our travels…..
Hikker HP-5 Anti-shock Hiking Pole, 2-pack


Yesterday wine, today whine

Yesterday wine, today whine

It was time to head back to camp.  The drive from Palisade, Colorado, to our camp at the James Robb State Park in Fruita took less than thirty minutes.  Both towns are conveniently located just off Interstate 70 making the drive quick and easy.

Interstate 70
Palisade, Colorado …….. Interstate 70

The four of us ladies sit in the vehicle in near silence with smiles plastered to our faces.  A visit to Suncrest Orchard Alpacas, the day filled with wine tasting, laughter, treats, and the perfect Colorado weather was enough to send us into a perpetual state of euphoria overdose, if there is such a thing.Suncrest Orchard Alapacs

But our fun didn’t end there.  We arrived back at camp about fifteen minutes after Al and my brother returned.  While the ladies were out doing ‘girl’ stuff, the guys were out doing manly things with manly men and now they were doing manly things around camp…. chopping wood and preparing a campfire.

As we approached the picnic table, the sweet smell of deliciousness wafted the air.  That morning before leaving for the wine festival, I baked brownies and started a pork shoulder in the slow cooker.  The slow cooker was outside on the picnic table and the pork was slowly doing it’s thing while we were out having fun.pulled pork


wine tastingIt wasn’t long before we were all sitting around the table indulging in pulled pork sandwiches with plenty of side dishes.  If I recall correctly, a bottle or two of wine may have also been included with our meal 😉

After dinner, it was time for desert around the campfire.  As we indulged in brownies and more wine, we discussed the events of the day.  It was obvious why the ladies were smiling….the last two posts detailed our adventures, but what about the guys?  Why were they smiling?  Hum, we wondered……

They weren’t quick to share, but one look at my brother’s dusty, dirt covered vehicle told a tale;  boys and their toys in the Colorado back country!

browniesThe rest of the night was spent around a roaring campfire, devouring homemade brownies, and sharing events of the day all beneath a star filled Colorado sky.

The girls were up early the next morning.  They were greeted with freshly brewed coffee and warm cinnamon rolls.  I know, I’m a great hostess!

Ashton’s car was still sitting at my brother and sister-in-law’s house.  I’ll need to drive Ashton and Tasha over there so they can head home to Denver.  Since this was Tasha’s first visit to Grand Junction, I opt to take a detour through The Monument on the way to my brother’s home.

James Robb State Park
The guest room. Gals awake to a beautiful Colorado morning; James Robb State Park

Since I’ve already done so many posts in the past on The Colorado National Monument, I’ll jump right to the gals; they had a fabulous time taking in the sights and playing around during our 2 hour detour via Rim Rock Drive.

By noon on Sunday, September 22, we were saying farewell to Ashton and Tasha.  Al and I would leave Colorado the next day meaning I probably won’t see my daughter until next spring.  That’s where the whining began.  Yesterday wine, today whine……Palisade Colorado

5K or 5 miles?

5K or 5 miles?

Since our return to Grand Junction, Colorado a week ago, we’ve been getting in plenty of hiking in and around the Colorado National Monument.  Our time here in the area is soon coming to an end.  Fall is in the air.

Independence Monument
Colorado National Monument; the monolith is called Independence Monument
Colorado National Monument
getting closer with each step

While sitting at the picnic table at James Robb State Park, we observe a flock of Canadian geese flying overhead.  The cool nights and honking geese are a reminder that it’s about time for our migration south.  But…..there’s one more hike I must do before moving on.

In the past I’ve attempted this hike twice, but never went far enough, never rounded that last corner to have the iconic Independence Monument come into view.  Mind you, in both cases I was eager to continue the hike, but hiking partners were not.  I understand, especially since hiking in the Colorado National Monument is rather rugged and remote.  It’s best to be safe and also acknowledge one’s limitations.Independence Monument

Ah, that illusive monolith keeps calling to me.  Oh, how I long to stand at its base taking in all of its 450 foot height.  Independence Monument is probably Colorado National Monument’s most well-known rock formations.  Every Fourth of July, rock climbers scale this unique monolith and erect an American flag on top.  However, that’s not the only time climbers are seen scaling this rock.  On any given day one might see climbers.

I read about the Word Press 5K.  A 5K challenge and my innate desire to hike to Independence Monument….count me in.  So for the Automattic’s Worldwide WP 5K 2013, I enlist my sister-in-law (sil) as my hiking partner and Tuesday, September 24, 2013 she and I set off on the Lower Monument Canyon Trail in the Colorado National Monument.

Colorado National MonumentWe park at the Monument Canyon trailhead off Broadway/Hwy 340 just 2 miles west of the Fruita entrance to the Colorado National Monument.  It’s a sunny, beautiful day in western Colorado.  The heavy drenching of rain we received on Sunday has the trail nicely packed keeping dust at a minimum.

Its 2.5 miles to the base of Independence Monument from the trailhead with a 500 foot elevation gain.  The trail starts out gentle and wide enough for sil and I to walk next to each other while chit chatting.  After about ten minutes the trail narrows and I take the lead.  It’s a moderate, steady uphill climb with some technical hiking in spots.  Sil brought her walking stick to steady herself in some of the tricky spots.

hiking Colorado
the trail consists of rock and dirt
Colorado National Monument
We continue on the trail….no monument in sight yet

We are walking in silence, taking in the surrounding beauty.  We admire the vibrant red rocks and their various shapes and sizes.  We breathe in the scent of pine from the pinyon trees and listen to the birds overhead.

We’re about thirty minutes into our hike when I hear a rustling in the brush and quickly come to a stop.  I glance around.  Finding the source of movement, I point to the valley below alerting sister-in-law of the group of bighorn sheep.  It was all I could do to keep sil from screeching in delight.  She and my brother have lived in Grand Junction almost nine years and every year they set off on hikes in search of bighorn sheep.  This was her first sighting and she was excited beyond all.  We stood there watching these magnificent animals before reluctantly pulling ourselves away.  We have a 5K to complete after all.

Colorado National Monument
I round the corner and there it is in all its glory….Independence Monument

hiking ColoradoWe continue on our hike with a new-found spring in our step and smiles from ear to ear.  It wasn’t long before we rounded a corner and there it was in all its glory….Independence Monument.  Our pace quickens and soon we’re standing at the base of this monolith looking up.

This sandstone rock sculpture looks different from each angle.  When we approach the rock from the east, we see the narrow side giving the impression it is tall and slender.  As we walk around to the other side, it widens and we see the path and wall rock climbers use to climb.

rock climbing
climbers use this side to ascend

I made it to the base of Independence Monument…..finely 🙂  However, to this point we’ve hiked only 2.5 miles.  I need to hike 3.1 to equal that 5K.  Sil and I also need to decide if we want to return to the trailhead back through Monument Canyon, the way we came, or complete a loop by taking the unimproved Wedding Canyon Trail.  Sil is unfamiliar with Wedding Canyon Trail and is a little concerned with the word “unimproved”.

5K or 3.1 miles so far

I’m feeling great.  I feel adventurous.  Bighorn sheep and accomplishing a long desired hike, who wouldn’t be.  So I say, “Let’s go for it”.  At the base of Independence Monument we pick up Wedding Canyon Trail.  Just before we round the mesa, I figure we’ve hit that 5K mark.  Yeah!

That’s the mesa we hiked around. The trail is down there…somewhere….in the valley to the left of Independence Monument

The trail leads us around a mesa.  This huge mesa, plateau, rock, mountain whatever one calls it, blocks the sun on the trail giving us some wonderful shade to hike in.

leaving Independence Monument behind we continue our hike via Wedding Canyon Trail

Wedding Canyon trail does have some steep up and down moments requiring us to focus on our footing.  We also enjoy stopping along the way to stare in awe at the majestic scenery.  Once we round the mesa, we’re greeted with bright sunshine and a somewhat flat trail.wwwp5K

sister-in-law looking back at the trail from where we came before climbing the last hill

“Are we there yet?”  We’re about ready to end this hike and thinking the trailhead can’t be too far off.  That’s when sil and I notice the trail going up.  In unison we comment, “Oh, no.  You gotta be fricken kidding me!”  We have one last hill to climb or at least we hope it’s the last.  We’re really tired at this point.

Finally we make it to where the two trails, Monument Canyon and Wedding Canyon, meet and our car sits just a little beyond. We climb into the vehicle, but not without uttering a few grunts and groans.  Yep, we’re feeling it, but in a good way.  We hiked 5 miles in 2 hours.  5K or 5 miles?  With scenery like this, who’s counting?

We hiked the Wedding/Monument Canyon Loop and loved it. We’ll do it again…..just not tomorrow 😆
Or maybe we’ll hike around the “Coke Ovens”….more rock sculpture’s 😉

Hiking the Monument

Hiking the Monument

The Colorado National Monument rises over 2,000 feet above the Colorado River and provides a grand backdrop to the city of Grand Junction.  The Colorado National Monument consists of 32 square miles of rugged, up and down terrain with towering, brilliantly colored rock.  Yep, school is back in session….a little geography can’t hurt!The Monument

The Monument is part of the greater Colorado Plateau which also embraces geologic wonders like the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Arches national parks.  It is a semi-desert landscape and home to a multitude of wildlife such as; mountain lions, mule deer, antelope, bobcats, lizards, and snakes just to name a few.

Folks from around the world travel to this part of Colorado for the hiking and biking availability.  Exploring by trail is a great way to see The Monument, and that’s exactly what Al and I did several times during our month long stay in Grand Junction.The Monument

For the first time visitor, we would recommend starting off with a scenic drive.  Rim Rock Drive offers 23 miles of beautiful views with numerous overlooks along the way.  This road is also very popular with cyclists, my brother being one of them.  The road climbs from the Grand Valley of the Colorado River to the park’s high-country, then winds along the rim of the plateau.  Quite the workout via a bicycle!  I think I’ll stick with a motorized form of transportation….thank you 😎Colorado National Monument

One of my favorite days hiking The Monument was the day we hiked the Devil’s Kitchen trail.  This is an easy 2 mile round trip hike that did require a little agility at the top.  The trail leads to a rock room formed by huge upright boulders.Colorado National Monument

My brother and sister-in-law, who are very familiar with this trail, tagged along as tour guides.  In the above photo, the trail is in the center and our destination are the boulders.  We’ll be climbing up in there.

Colorado National Monument
Al and my brother lead the way!

Colorado National Monument

Colorado National Monument

The hike was filled with plenty of laughter, good company, and gorgeous scenery.  This was the perfect hike to get Al and me back on the trails.  We climbed, and climbed, and at times lost sight of the trail, but amongst the four agile hikers, we easily found our way.

Colorado hiking
Hey guys! You think these carved steps are part of the trail? Dah!
Climbing further up into “Devil’s Kitchen”

Just a little further……

Follow me!
hiking Colorado
My brother, the gentleman, helps his wife up into the “kitchen”

We hang around at the top taking in the beautiful scenery surrounding us and contemplate “whatever shall we do for lunch”.  With today’s million dollar question answered, we start the hike back to the vehicle.

What goes up, must come down!   😆

With camera in hand and wanting to capture the agile hikers on their descent, I quickly scramble down before the gang.  I had no intention of trying to climb back down the huge boulder that my brother helped pull his wife and me up onto.  Thus, I found, what I thought to be an easier way down.

hiking Colorado
My brother paves his own way!

I quickly scramble down just in time to watch my brother forge his own way.  His wife, in a questioning tone, asks, “Why aren’t you going down the way your mountain goat sister went?  While glancing around and with a slight hesitation he responds, “Oh man, I didn’t see where she went.  I wondered how she made it down so fast”.

hiking Colorado
Interesting moves dear Brother!

Sister-in-law opts to follow MY trail with the aid of her husband.  Al pulls up the rear.  I sure was glad to have started the journey down the trail first so I could capture all of today’s exciting antics.

Hiking Colorado
I’ll follow your mountain goat sister!

We were laughing and teasing my brother on the entire hike back to the vehicle about his trail blazing abilities and he, of course, was a good sport about it.

We really enjoyed this hike and it was exactly what we needed to pique our interest in the trails.  Thanks to my brother and his wife for the tour followed by a fabulous lunch.  Here’s to a lot more fun hikes in our future!

Hiking Colorado
Ooh, Samson…..can I be your Delilah?

Wonderful Company

Since my last post, hubby and I have witnessed some spectacular scenery complete with equally spectacular company.

Grand Junction
Grand Junction, Colorado – with the Colorado National Monument in the background

After a wonderful stay at James Robb State Park accompanied by lots of time hanging out with my brother and his wife at their home, we departed Grand Junction, Colorado, and took a two hour drive south to Ridgway State Park.   My brother and his wife would later join us for the weekend in their new travel trailer.  Since this was a relatively spur of the moment travel decision amongst the four of us, campsite availability at Ridgway State Park was sparse.

Ridgway State Park
Ridgway Lake

Ridgway State ParkMy brother and I sat at his kitchen table reviewing our options.  Obviously we’d like to camp next to each other, which further limited our options.  Eeeny, meeny, miney, mo…. reservation made…..  And score!

When Al and I arrived at Ridgway State Park and settled into our site, we were extremely pleased.  There was plenty of spacing between sites and we were surrounded by views.  I’ll admit….. brother gets the credit for picking out a couple of great sites.  Good job bro!

Ridgway State Park is popular and a favorite among many.  I’m thinking, it just may become one of our favorites as well.  Ridgway State Park offers three diverse campgrounds;  Pa-Co-Chu-Puk Campground is located in a valley below the damn and provides full hook-ups.  It sits along the Uncompahgre River and offers some great fishing opportunities.

Ridgway State ParkThe Elk Ridge Campground sits high on a bluff / mesa among a forest of pine trees.  This is the most popular of the three campgrounds at Ridgway State Park.

The third and least popular and the one we camped at is Dakota Terraces Campground.  One downside – it’s located near the highway, but that is offset by beautiful mountain views and excellent lake and trail access.  We were sure to take advantage of the easy trail access right outside our front door.

This part of Colorado has plenty to offer.  It is officially known as the “Jeep Capital of the World” and the little town of Ouray located 14 miles south of Ridgway is known as “America’s Switzerland”.   We found ourselves staring in awe at the picturesque San Juan Mountains.  With so much to see and do, we wondered….what should we explore first?

Who better to answer that question than fellow blogger Mark over at Box Canyon Blog.  Mark and wife, Bobbie, call this part of Colorado ‘home’ for the summer months.  I shoot Mark an email letting him know we’re in his neck of the woods and hope he’ll share some insider information on the area.

sitting above the town of Ouray – the view from Mark’s deck

Much to my surprise, Mark invites Al and me over for a barbeque along with a few fellow RVer’s.  Wow…..complete strangers and we’re invited to their home AND what a lovely home it is with the most stunning views.  Thank you Mark and Bobbie for the hospitality, delicious meal, spectacular scenery, and wonderful company.  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.Ouray

another view from Marks’ deck

Be sure and check out Mark’s stunning photography along with his entertaining story telling.  I’m sure after viewing his photos, you too will want to visit this part of Colorado.  I know his photos piqued my interest and continue to do so.  Our goal over the next year is to get in good enough shape to experience some of the amazing hikes Bobbie and Mark do, because guarantee…. Al and I will be returning to this area of Colorado next summer.  I have some mountain lakes and wildflowers to capture after all. Ridway State Park

Although this was just our first full day nestled near the San Juans, I feel myself falling in love.  Sorry Golden, Colorado… have some pretty stiff competition.  Tomorrow we’ll take the little truck into the back country.

Unlikely Bonding

Go ahead and putt….I’ll hold the flag.

Sometimes spending the day hanging around a campsite and communing with nature is exactly what the mind and body needs to rejuvenate.

The James Robb State Park in Fruita, Colorado has proven to be the perfect home for Al and me to recuperate from the arduous move.

James Robb State Park

Al and I have been enjoying morning strolls around the State Park which happens to border the Colorado River.  The Colorado National Monument acts as a beautiful backdrop while lounging outside the RV watching the grass grow.

I’ll never make the Olympics if I keep falling off this beam.

We also watch in silence as creatures large and small go about their days.  One day in particular, I found myself enamored with the oodles of dragonflies around the park.

This is my best side….go ahead and shoot!  Isn’t my orange coloring pretty?

Not one to have any interest in entomology, I find myself drawn to these unique little guys.  It started the other morning, when we went on our stroll relatively early in an attempt to beat the heat.  I left my camera behind in a bit of a lazy, still half a sleep moment.  Part way into our walk and near the river, we came upon some vegetation a buzz with dragonflies.  One dragonfly in particular appeared to be posing.

Why won’t the one with the pretty wings talk to me?
With a little more work at the barre, I’ll be ready for the Bolshoi

The next morning, I was raring to go with camera in hand.   Nope, won’t be leaving my camera behind in the future.  My pace was rather quick as I was aiming toward a particular patch of vegetation along the Colorado River.  Bingo!  Even more dragonflies than the previous morning.

The dragonflies character and personalities didn’t resonate with me until I zoomed in on them.  Could it be I was having a bonding moment with an insect?

Just look at their faces…..rather cute, I’d say.  And this coming from someone who has no problem using a fly swatter or a shoe to squash…..

After more clicks on the camera than I can count, Al and I resume our stroll.  Back at the campsite, we settle into our lounge chairs and watch the few tuffs of clouds pass overhead.  The tall grasses and bushes around our campsite are a bevy of activity…..cute little cotton tail bunnies, yellow bellied birds (my name for them), AND dragonflies.  I spend the next hour communing with dragonflies while Al sits back watching my interaction and conversation with the dragonflies in total amusement.  “That’s it…now let me get just a little closer….hold still.  Can you turn to the side?  Nope, lightings not good.  Can you move to that bush?”……Dragonfly

Yes, I’d say we’re relaxing……..

If I don’t respond to your comments, it’s because of poor internet service.  We’re at Ridgway State Park just north of Ouray, Colorado in site #18.  We return to Grand Junction on the 31st.

A Visit with my Brother

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!