Mommy does a happy dance!

It was the middle of September when we arrived back at the Cherry Creek State Park located near Denver, Colorado. We had an enjoyable and enlightening seven week sojourn that took us to the Midwest and back (I put a map of the trip at the end of this post). Family visits and exploring new territory made for a memorable trip.

Cherry Creek State Park
“Is that you, Ms. Ingrid”, the deer asked quizzically?

As pleasurable as the trip was, it was nice to be back in familiar territory and enjoying regular visits with our daughter again.  I was also relishing the full hook-ups.  After seven weeks of partial to no hook-ups, it was nice to be back in luxury.  Let the cleaning commence!

Colorado State Parks
We enjoyed a wonderful campsite at Cherry Creek SP and loved the neighbors

After getting caught up with chores, we found time to visit with old friends and connect with new.  Fellow blogger Larry, his wife, and sister-in-law were passing through the Denver area on their way back home in Tennessee. Larry and I have followed each other’s blogs for a while now. Thus, when the opportunity to meet up presented itself, we jumped at it.

Blogger luncheon – from left to right; Al, me, Pat, Bev, and Larry

Since we were camped at opposite ends of the Denver Metro area (well over an hour apart), we rendezvoused at the C.B. Potts Brewery in Highlands Ranch where the conversation AND laughs (and maybe even some Beer) flowed freely for nearly four hours.  Obviously, we all had a great time and now with both of us bloggers slowing down the travels, it’s time to get back in the kitchen.  Larry is always cooking up something yummy over at Big Dude’s Eclectic Ramblings and I can always use a little inspiration.

Daughter and I go for a hike in the Colorado Rockies
Daughter and I go for a hike in the Colorado Rockies

Ok, now for the BIG news…..  Before we left Denver around the end of July, our daughter, Ashton, had been talking about needing a change.  When she visited a close college girlfriend last spring in Texas, she started thinking about moving to San Antonio or Austin, Texas.  The thought came somewhat of a surprise to hubby and me considering she’s our little mountain goat who has always sworn she would never leave Colorado, but seems she may have inherited that gypsy gene after all.

Could this gal ever leave Colorado?
Could this gal ever leave Colorado?

So, there I was in northern Illinois visiting with my dad when the phone call from Ashton came in.  Hmm, it was an actual phone call versus a text message, which of course sent me into mommy worry mode immediately.  I hurriedly answered the phone, “Is everything okay?”  Ashton responded in an upbeat tone, “Yep, sure is.  I’ve decided to move to Phoenix, Arizona”.  SAY WHAT!

Ashton having a reflective moment at St. Mary's Glacier, Idaho Springs, Colorado
Ashton having a reflective moment at St. Mary’s Glacier, Idaho Springs, Colorado

In order to understand my utter shock you have to understand, during every visit to Phoenix that daughter made, she repeatedly announced, “I could never live here”.  To some St. Mary's Glacierdegree, she didn’t even like visiting, but considering her brother lived in Phoenix and we (her parents) spend a great deal of our winter in the area, she would visit to be with family, but always reluctantly.

I won’t bore you with all the ensuing calls, text messages, and emails that followed after her initial heart stopping announcement, but I would like to preface, not once did our daughter EVER ask us for our help or assistance regarding the move.  However, that didn’t stop hubby and I from going into parent mode and canceling our Upper Michigan Peninsula leg of our trip and returning to Denver a few weeks earlier than originally planned.

One of just many advantages to RV travel is the ease of changing plans.  A few clicks of the mouse here and a little research there and ta-dah ….. we’re onto Plan B which in this case included exploring South Dakota and eastern Nebraska on our return to Denver.  And if you all remember, Plan B turned out great!

Mommy does a happy dance!
Mommy does a happy dance!

Quite frankly, I was so excited for Ashton to embark on this new journey that I couldn’t wait to be a part of it.  I had recommended this move to her for the past couple of years and each time I even mumbled the thought, I was met with a rude dismissal.

Perhaps, she just needed a little time to mull the idea over.  Regardless, I’m one happy mom having both my children in the same city.  This year will have our family of four spending Thanksgiving and Christmas together for the first time in five years.

I’m still dancing, can you tell?  …..  Next up, the big move.

On our last day in Denver, we witness the eclipse
On our last night in Denver, we witnessed the eclipse


St. Mary's Glacier
Ashton and me – St. Mary’s Glacier, Idaho Springs, Colorado

Viair 00088 88P Portable Air Compressor
The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day

A visit to an adult store?

I don’t know about you, but I can’t believe it’s almost the end of July.  This summer is whizzing by.  Although we haven’t had any eventful excursions while hanging around the Denver, Colorado area this year, we have enjoyed our stay immensely.

Denver camping
Cherry Creek State Park – we’re in site #38

We found ourselves staying at three different and equally beautiful campgrounds this summer.  Our first stop was Chatfield State Park which I wrote about in my last post.  We then moved a little north to Bear Creek Lake Park.  I discovered this park last summer when my daughter took me stand up paddle boarding for my birthday.  You can read about the SUP experience along with a few other places we explored in and around Denver by clicking here.

camping in Denver
Bear Creek Lake Park Campground in Lakewood, Colorado

The campground at Bear Creek Lake Park is small, sits in an open meadow, and offers electric only hook-ups.

camping near Denver
Bear Creek Lake Park campground. We’re in site #47

This campground is the perfect place to stay while taking in a concert at the fabulous Red Rocks Amphitheater.  Don’t have concert tickets?  That’s ok because Red Rocks is an awesome place to hike and get in a serious workout.  It’s always open and free to the public, that is when a concert isn’t in session.  We never pass up an opportunity to hike at Red Rocks or get together with fellow bloggers’s.   Thanks ML for your photo contributions.

Bear Creek Lake Park has three small lakes to enjoy.  Bear Creek Lake itself is perfect for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing.  Soda Lake offers a beach along with the ability to rent stand up paddle boards and kayaks.  There’s a third small pond lake for rental water skiing.  The hiking/biking trails throughout the park are wonderful and there’s also an equestrian center offering trail rides.  Bear Creek Lake Park was a great spot to call ‘home’ for a week.

Now before we move onto our third campground, allow me to share a fun little stop.  Between our stay at Chatfield State Park and Bear Creek Lake Park, hubby and I found ourselves traveling SH-470 routinely (a highway on the far southwest suburbs of Denver).  As we’d pass this architecturally interesting and large building with huge neon lettering saying Tipsy’s, I knew we had to stop and check it out.  And check it out we did.Tipsy's liquor worldlarge liquor store in Denver





Upon entertaining this ‘adult store’ (seriously, did you think I meant some other kind of adult store?), hubby and I immediately went in different directions.  I went to the champagne aisle while Al checked out all the beer.  I don’t think I’ve ever been in a liquor store that had a piano, a chess set, putting green, and huge fireplace.

A little strolling around Tipsy’s Liquor World and a few purchases later, our liquor cabinet in the RV has been restocked…. and then some.  With that accomplished it was time to move camp.

camping in Denver
Cherry Creek Reservoir

Our next stop was Cherry Creek State Park.  This park is a favorite with many and I can see why.  The reservoir is a serious draw for both boaters and anglers along with a marina for watercraft rentals.  Then there’s the extensive trail system, a wetlands area for birding, a model plan airfield, and a clay target shooting range.  And finally, a great location convenient to everything including downtown Denver and the airport.

The campground is large and offers full hook-ups for RV’s as well as non hook-ups for tents.  Most of the campsites are shaded with large, mature trees and the grounds are beautifully maintained.

Denver wildlife
wild turkey’s at Cherry Creek State Park
camping in Denver
the swim beach at Cherry Creek State Park, Denver, Colorado

Of course, my favorite is always the wildlife.  We had deer, turkey’s, and geese stroll through the campground regularly.  Near the marina, I spotted cormorants, egrets, pelicans and sea gulls.  On the opposite side of the lake is the swim beach where I stumbled upon some napping geese.

wild turkey
Miss Turkey decided to run for cover from the crazy lady with the camera.

We enjoyed our stay at Cherry Creek State Park so much that we already booked a two-week stay here in September.  Tonight we’ll join our daughter for dinner and in the morning we hit the road.  Where to next?  Here’s a clue about where we’re heading……corn on the cobb

Evecase Large Canvas Messenger DSLR Digital Camera Bag with Rain cover and Removal laptop and camera insert – Brown
Havana Golf Sun Hat (Medium (21-23″ circumference head))


Repeats are great!

The anticipation of pulling up jacks and rolling down the road to a new location is always exciting, but returning to familiar territory can be equally enjoyable.  There’s something comforting about revisiting a place.Denver, Colorado

Denver, Colorado
our daughter, Ashton

This summer we find ourselves once again calling Denver home.  Last year we stayed in Westminster (northwest of Denver) at the Westminster Elks Lodge.  At the time, our daughter lived just a few miles away making it super convenient to hang out with her.  The location was also ideal to head into Denver regularly and explore the city, which we took full advantage of.

Last summer also included a few visits to Rocky Mountain National Park.  RMNP offers one majestic view after another with wildlife sightings almost guaranteed.  Gosh, how I love this place!

Elk in rutObviously, our main reason for returning to Denver for the months of June and July were to spend time with our daughter.  Last year Ashton moved to Highlands Ranch (south end of the Denver area) which meant the Elks Lodge in Westminster was no longer a convenient option for us to stay.

That was fine by me since the lack of views and high density parking were not my favorite.  Now, we had the  perfect opportunity to check out some lovely state parks.

Our first stop on the agenda was Chatfield State Park, located southwest of Denver.  We spent ten days here last year and liked it so much that we ended up booking a two-week reservation in the very same site for a June visit.  The views from my campsite were exactly what I was craving.

Denver, Colorado
the view out my RV door – site 74 at Chatfield State Park

I’ll jump at any opportunity to camp with a water view.   Add in wildflowers and wildlife…camping in Colorado

Denver, Coloradowell, it just doesn’t get much better.  Since, I’d been feeling a bit under the weather, this was the perfect place for me to lay low, recover, and enjoy the scenery.

During my working days, I was one of those people who would go on vacation and would need a vacation to recover from vacation.  I’ve never been one to lay at the beach or pool while sunbathing or reading.  Oh no, no lying around when there are things to do, sights to see, and adventures to be had.

Denver, Colorado
downtown Denver

To some degree, that hasn’t changed much.  Before we even travel to a new place, I usually have a list of things to see and do.  If nothing else, at least a trail map. That doesn’t mean we’ll carry out the items on that list, it’s meant as a rough idea of what an area has to offer.  The kids have plenty of travel stories involving their mom (moi) dragging them off in the rain to go zip lining in Maui or learning to ski in a blizzard.  No sitting around for this family when adventure awaits.

Denver, ColoradoThat said, I was really excited to return to Denver for the summer.  I had such a great time here last year that I compiled a list of places new and old to visit and even picked up the latest edition of 5280, a great magazine for anyone visiting Denver.

However, my health had other plans in mind and this summer I find myself joining the ranks of loungers near water reading.  Because I explored so much of Denver and the eastern Rockies last year, I’m actually enjoying the down time and of course it helps to be camped in some pretty awesome spots.

Chatfield State Park
Chatfield State Park, near Denver, Colorado – site 74

I really like Chatfield State Park …… mountains, water, wildlife, wildflowers, and sunsets.  The park was experiencing some serious flooding during our stay.  So serious that the western side of the park was closed, as were all the boat ramps.

camping in Denver
western entrance (Wadsworth Road) into Chatfield SP – the day use area is totally under water. The water is supposed to be on the other side of those trees. The trees should not be under water – picnic area and swim beach.

We even lost the ability for sewer for an entire week causing us to make a trip to Cabela’s to dump our tanks.  In other words, the park had no flush toilets anywhere, no showers, and no dump station.  We even experienced some power outages.  I felt badly for the staff as none of this was their fault and yet some campers and boaters were hostile.

camping in Denver
We’re looking at the swim beach, what’s left of it and the partly submerged restrooms. It gets worse!
Colorado State Parks
the same beach restrooms are almost totally submerged just a few days later. Check out the buoy’s in both photos.

Colorado State ParksFor us it was all part of the adventure and we were even refunded the difference between a partial hook-up verses a full hook-up.  I think it helped that we’re comfortable dry camping.

Paddlers were loving it.  With the boat ramps closed, the only boaters on the water were either kayaks, canoes, or those that rent a slip at the marina.  Even the weekends were quiet at this normally crowded reservoir.

Colorado State Parks
this is the main road heading toward the Wadsworth entrance turned kayak launch.
Colorado State Parks
the Platte River covers the main road toward the Wadsworth Road entrance

Roads and trails were underwater throughout the park.  This all took place the last two weeks of June, and as of this writing, the water has receded and all roads are open/assessable and all facilities are back in operation.  Colorado sure experienced an unusually wet May and June in 2015 making for a nice showing of wildflowers which Miss Hummer was loving.hummers

Chatfield ReservoirSo although I haven’t been out and about exploring much lately, my repeat stay at Chatfield State Park was great.  I relaxed outside watching the world go by, or rather hummers whiz by, I played around in the RV kitchen experimenting with some new recipes, we enjoyed lots of visits with the daughter, and even managed to fit in a little socializing.

Next up, we move camp over to Bear Creek Lake Park…….

To check out my first attempt at making Barbacoa click here.  And here’s the two latest additions to my library.

My Paleo Patisserie: An Artisan Approach to Grain Free BakingPlate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography & Styling

I never thought food photography would be so challenging. Let’s face it, anyone can take a photograph of a plate of food and post it on Instagram or Pin it, but making the food look like an appetizing morsel instead of tossed cookies takes a little more work …… as I’m finding out!

Colorado State Parks
I could get used to this view!



Top 5 Colorado towns continued

We’ve enjoyed our stay at the Chatfield State Park despite Mother Nature’s wrath. Colorado’s front range received a ton of spring rain and now with the runoff from mountain snows melting, the Chatfield Reservoir is at record high levels.  The flooding is so severe that the west side of the park is closed as are all the boat ramps.  To top things off, ALL sewer services within the park have been shut off.  That means, no RV sewer connections, no dump station, no restroom flush toilets, and no showers anywhere in the park.  Restroom buildings have been locked and lovely construction porta-potties placed onsite in lieu.  And I won’t begin to mention the power outages.

Chatfield Reservoir
Site B-74 at Chatfield State Park near Denver, Colorado

If there’s anything this RV life has taught us, it’s to expect the unexpected and learn to roll with the flow and adjust accordingly.  And of course, a good sense of humor always helps.  So although we endured a few inconveniences during our Chatfield State Park visit, we still enjoyed our stay immensely.

ColoradoOne afternoon during one of those power outages, fellow campers were out and about checking with one another…. “Do you have power?”  During such an exchange, we ended up meeting some folks from Illinois.

As former Illinoisans, the conversation flowed freely.  The young couple, camping in a small travel trailer, were on a two-week vacation and wanted to see and experience Colorado’s finest.

Al and I did our best to answer their list of questions.  We offered recommendations on roads to avoid while pulling the trailer, keeping in mind this was their first visit to the Rocky Mountains.  Roads that Al and I are comfortable pulling aren’t necessarily roads we’d recommend for those less seasoned when it comes to mountain driving.

One particular question that had hubby and I torn – “What is your all time favorite, must see, Colorado town?”  (ah, a blog post(s) was born)  Al and I agreed it was a toss-up between Crested Butte and Grand Lake.  Both towns are beautiful in their own right and are very different from one another.  They both share plenty of charm, character, and beautiful scenery.

Crested Butte Colorado
the back country north of Crested Butte, Colorado

Mount Crested Butte, ColoradoWhen we moved to Colorado in the mid-nineties, Crested Butte was the first mountain town our family of four (plus doggie) visited.  I think Crested Butte will always hold a special place in my heart due to the special family moments experienced here.

One memorable trip occurred three years ago when I had a crazy idea to go tent camping at Lake Irwin.  I wanted to take the little truck (Tacoma) and explore some of the 4×4 back country roads north of Crested Butte.  Thus, we left the comforts of the RV behind and packed up the camping gear.

Crested Butte ColoradoLake Irwin is located west of the town of Crested Butte near Kebler Pass and sits at an elevation of 10,000 feet.  Somehow that elevation thing didn’t register properly in my mind when I set up this excursion.

Since this was in the middle of summer, I knew the temperatures would still drop substantially during the night, but I never imagined they would drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.  Thank goodness, hubby brought an extra sleeping bag to throw over us.  Even poor Bear was shivering during the night until I covered him with my sweatshirt.

Crested Butte
Exploring the back country north of Crested Butte

Crested Butte ColoradoIt was mid July and the Wildflower Festival was in full swing.  No coincidence there.  The trip was planned with the wildflowers in mind.

Crested Butte relishes the title of “Wildflower Capital of Colorado”.  Although according to locals, the drought conditions of 2012 lead to a dismal display of wildflowers.  No matter who we talked to (merchant, waitress, gas station attendant) everyone apologized for the pure showing of wildflowers and asked us to please come back next year.  Regardless, the countryside was and is stunningly beautiful.  The town of Crested Butte is filled with charm and character.  Mount Crested Butte is a little further up the road and this is where the ski slopes are located.  Even though the 1980’s architecture at Mt. Crested Butte is lacking in style and character when compared to downtown Crested Butte, it’s still worth a stroll around and there’s new updates yearly.

The back country north of Crested Butte is not to be missed, but strolling the town of Crested Butte can also be pleasurable.  Of course, there was a little T-shirt shopping involved during our visit (a habit of mine). Not wanting to leave Bear in the vehicle, Bear shopped with us and was welcome in most stores.

wildflowers in Colorado
back country road north of Crested Butte – Slate River Road

To read more about Crested Butte, visit our 2012 excursion – click here and here.  We revisited again in 2013 and I share a little more info here.  I wonder, with all the moisture Colorado has received this year, if the wildflowers won’t be in abundance and offer a stunning show for this year’s wildflower festival.  Who’s willing to check it out for me?  I’d go, but I already have commitments 😦

Crested Butte Colorado
camped at Chatfield State Park

Camping?  With a tent, truck camper, or small trailer there’s a bunch of options to choose:  from the Blue Mesa Reservoir to Crested Butte to National Forest back country.  With a bigger RV the list quickly dwindles.  With our modest 31 feet, we could fit into a few sites at Lake Irwin providing one such site was available.

There does seem to be wildflowers in Coloradosome free boondocking off-road 730 (Ohio Pass) just south of road 12 (Kebler Pass) which we would consider, but it does require traveling gravel roads to get there.  Washington Gulch Road also has some spots.

When we returned to the area in 2013 with the 5th wheel, we stayed at an RV Park off Highway 50 near the Blue Mesa Reservoir (west of the town of Gunnison).  During that visit, we spent some time checking out more campgrounds.  You can read about those camping options here.

For any first time Crested Butte RV visitor, I would highly recommend staying in a park off Highway 50 and exploring the Crested Butte area WITHOUT the RV first.  We all develop our own level of comfort when it comes to roads and parking conditions.  Al and I find the camping accommodations around Crested Butte to be a little more challenging than we’d like with the RV, but that’s not to say it wouldn’t work for you.

The stunning scenery in this part of Colorado should not be missed.  Crested Butte is definitely at the top of the list when it comes to “must see” places in Colorado….. it’s a favorite.  Up next, we’ll visit Grand Lake.

The Next Exit 2015: The Most Complete Interstate Hwy Guide

Weber 50060001 Q 1000 Liquid Propane Grill

Mile High Fun

What’s not to love about this time of year?  The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, and the wildlife babies are just too darn cute not to photograph.Canadian GeesewildflowersWith Breckenridge and the Continental Divide in the rear view mirror, we pulled into Chatfield State Park (southwest of Denver) for our two-week stay.

The lower elevation met us with warmer temperatures…. aaahhh!  That didn’t mean I was ready to replace those flannels sheets with the cool cotton sheets on the bed just yet, considering the temperatures and rains were still on the fickle side.  The inclement weather even caused some flooding at the state park.

Our first week in the Denver area whizzed by with the aid of friends and family.

Red Rocks
MonaLiza and Steve on the left – Al and me on the right

First up was reconnecting with RV buddies, Mona Liza and Steve from the blog Lowe’s RV Adventures.  Enjoying pizza and beer at Woody’s Pizza in Golden was the perfect place to catch up.  The next day we managed to work off some of those calories with a little hiking and stair climbing at Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater.

Red Rocks
Me gazing out over the Red Rocks Amphitheater.
Mona Liza and I stop to admire the wildflowers

It was a quick visit with ML and Steve since they were ready to embark on their summer tour of the Great Plains States.  They are on a quest to visit all 50 states and after 3 years of full-time travel, they are getting close to completing that quest.

country western concert
Ashton and me at Mile High Stadium for the Luke Bryan Concert.

Country western concertAnd then there’s the real reason behind us spending June and July in the Denver area; our daughter.

Between our travels and her crazy work schedule, it’s been nine months since we last saw her.  I do believe that’s the longest we’ve ever gone and she’s been sorely missed.

As a belated Mother’s Day gift, she surprised me with a girl’s outing that included a Luke Bryan concert.  I’m not much of a concert goer, but I’m up for anything that includes spending time with my daughter.  We had a great time along with 50,000 of our closest friends.  The line up of entertainers for the Kick Up the Dust Tour included; Dustin Lynch, Thomas Rhett, Randy Houser, Florida Georgia Line, and Luke Bryan.


Between you and me, I don’t feel a need to attend another concert anytime soon, much preferring time hiking in nature with a lot fewer people.  I did notice I was in the audience minority – less than 10 percent of the concert goers that evening were in the 55+ age group.  Perhaps those of my tender years were attending the U2 concert, who were also playing in town that night or better yet…. in bed in their comfy cocoon by 11:00 p.m. instead of still out on the town partying past one in the morning 😉

I hate to admit it, but this gal is no longer in shape to keep up the pace of a 25 year old.  But I did give it the ole college try.  That said, the past week has had me lying low fighting a cold, recovering from my Mile High fun, and getting caught up on my blog reading.  Oh, and inhaling lots and lots of chicken soup!Canadian Geese

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime: Comfort Classics, Freezer Food, 16-Minute Meals, and Other Delicious Ways to Solve Supper!

Repurposing and Architecture

Denver coloradoWhew, it’s been a very busy week.  First, I helped my daughter move from the northwest end of the Denver area to the southern end which is much closer to her work.  This will make her life so much easier especially once winter arrives and the snow starts to fall.Chatfield State Park

Second, hubby and I moved from the Westminster Elks Lodge, which was home base for us for the better part of the summer to the Chatfield State Park.  Ah, camping near water once again….. we love it.

As I sit in my comfy chair admiring the view, Al and I Elkdiscuss our stay in the area.

Although we initially planned to be moving around the state of Colorado all summer, we realized sitting in one location for awhile gave us plenty of opportunity to explore the Denver area leisurely.

One of the things I’ve loved discovering this summer in Denver, Colorado, are the unique businesses located in repurposed structures.  The first of such places we visited was the Recreational Equipment Inc. Store.REIThe REI Store is housed in a building built in the early 1900’s and was used for electric streetcar lines.  Since I already did a post about this building, you can click here to read more about it.REIWith each subsequent visit to this REI Store, I noticed more and more of the little details like the old rail tracks being repurposed.  If you look closely in the photo below, the rails are used for the track lighting.REIMuch of the building and its history has been beautifully preserved.REIAnother unique find was a former 1880’s brick structure that was formerly a foundry and has been turned into a home for a couple of restaurants and an unusual collection of shops.  ‘The Source’ is located in Denver’s River North District.artisan foodsThe Source is considered an artisan food market with such specialty shops as; Artisan Bread Bakery, a Butcher Shop, Floral Shop, Liquor Shop, Coffee Roaster, Cheese & Spice Shop and the Crooked Stave Brewery to round out the selection of businesses.


Turning a garage into a wine tasting room – That’s exactly what the Spero Family did.  Spero Winery is a family owned and operated winery.

wine tasting
Clyde Spero proudly serves up samples

We found ourselves visiting this establishment a few times during our stay at the Westminster Elks Lodge.  The fact that there is FREE wine tasting every Saturday and is located less than 5 miles away from home sure made it tastingAnd yes, it is totally free and the pours are generous.  They even offer a cheese, salami, and cracker platter free.  During our visits, we noticed a vast array of clientele from young to old and everything in between and the wine was good.

Cathedral BasilicaThe biggest surprise to me was the abundance of beautiful buildings in Denver.  It was a joy just walking around the city of Denver taking in the unique structures.

I was so enamored with the Cathedral Basilica that I even attended mass one Sunday morning.

The stained glass, Italian marble, and overall structure is simply stunning.

Holy GhostI had heard from locals that I needed to see the Holy Ghost Catholic Church.  At first, I wasn’t sure why until Al had me walk across the street from the church.

It looks as though the architects of this modern skyscraper designed that structure to appear as a large protector of sorts.

The combination of new and old buildings seemed to work in harmony throughout the entire city of Denver.

How about repurposing old pianos?  That’s exactly what you’ll see walking the outdoor Sixteenth Street Mall.  These pianos are available for anyone to enjoy.Sixteenth Street Mall

malls in DenverA city, is a city, is a city and as thus Denver is like any other city and has it’s fair share of homeless people living on the streets.  That said, it’s not uncommon to see a homeless person (or at least one that appears homeless) playing one of these pianos.

Sometimes the tune is basic and other times the raw talent stops you in your tracks.

Sixteenth Street MallOne time, my daughter and I just stood there, mouths opened, listening as a guy was banging out Beethoven’s fifth.

Needless to say, an appreciative crowd gathered.  It almost brought my daughter to tears as she asked, “Mom, how can someone with so much talent end up living on the streets?”  I’m sure we weren’t the only on lookers asking this question.

Probably the most impressive repurposing I discovered is located 30 minutes north of Denver.  What was once an ugly gravel pit is now a beautiful state park complete with ponds that are perfect for bird and fish habitat.Colorado State Parks

We found the St. Vrain State Park to be a lovely facility which we thoroughly enjoyed calling home for 5 days.

I was also impressed with Denver’s artistic sculptures displayed throughout the city.  I’ll save that for another post as this one is getting a little winded.

In closing, I’ll share one final photo  …..  a photo of MY favorite kind of ‘church’Fall colorsFYI…. we’re hitting the road Sunday.  Lake Mead here we come!
And remember…. if the text is in blue it’s linked to a website.  If it’s in red, that’s just me playing around and letting you know I’m changing subjects 🙂

Keurig K130/B130 Brewing System

Patagonia Atom

A Summer of Fun

paddle boardingGosh, I can’t believe summer is over and our stay in the Denver area will be coming to an end.  Although I’m looking forward to hitting the road soon, I don’t relish saying goodbye to our daughter.

I find myself reviewing my photos from the summer and realize, we had one heck of a good time.  And because we were having so much fun, I didn’t take the time to post about it all.  Here’s some of our highlights……

Daughter and I go stand up paddle boarding at Bear Creek Lake Park in Lakewood, Colorado.  I had wanted to try this for a long time so when the opportunity presented itself, I was all in.  An hour was enough for me for starters, but Ashton and her friends stayed out for two hours.  I’m hooked and can’t wait to go again.stand up paddle boarding

Rockies baseball
this player is probably why the Rockies lost!

Our son flew in from Phoenix for a week.  We took in a baseball game.

Now mind you, I’m not a fan of baseball but there is something fun about attending a game in person.

And especially when it’s teams from two of our home towns.  Rockies vs. Cubs at Coor’s Field.

I’m sure all our friends and family in the Chicago area were cheering as the Cub’s spanked the Rockies 6-1.

I’m just glad the game didn’t go into overtime.  Yep, that comment from me received a few chuckles 😉  Shows ya how much I know about baseball.

Rockies baseball

Breckenridge Brewery
Logan, me, Ashton, and Al at Breckenridge Brewery, Denver

Labor day weekend – Taste of Colorado.  This was held in Denver at the Civic Center.  It was a day of eating, shopping, and listening to live music.

Sorry Chicago, but Denver’s ‘taste’ was tons more enjoyable than the Taste of Chicago and much more reasonably priced.

shopping in Denver
of course there was a purchase made!

Rocky Mountain ArsenalHiking and exploringRocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge.  I found myself hiking here a few times partly because it was only 12 miles from our home at the Westminster Elks but mostly because the lay of the land is flat 😉

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Army transformed the area from grazing plains into a chemical weapons manufacturing facility.  The bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima was actually manufactured at this site.

In the early 1980’s a massive clean up of the area ensued and a transition to a National Wildlife Refuge took place.Rocky Mountain Arsenal

Today there are no signs of a weapons facility, just some lingering residential buildings. Bison were reintroduced to the area several years ago.Jefferson County ParksAnother place I found myself hiking was White Ranch Park northwest of Golden, Colorado.  This park is a former working ranch and full of history.Jefferson County Parks

One of the trails leads through a meadow dotted with all kinds of farming equipment. Along side each antique farm implement is a plaque outlining its use.  This is a popular park for photography classes…..    although I wouldn’t know anything about these classes because they meet before sunrise, which certainly won’t work for me.  Thus, I decided to explore this park at a more reasonable hour… say 9:00 a.m.  Jefferson County Parks

Molly Brown MuseumThe unsinkable Molly Brown – the Molly Brown House Museum was a fun little stop.  We learned about this fascinating woman and her survival on the Titanic.

In the movie “Titanic” staring Leonardo DiCaprio; Kathy Bates portrayed the brassy outspoken American Molly Brown.  Her life entailed a rags to riches story full of philanthropy and travel.  She was one tough cookie!Jefferson County ParksJust a reminder, anytime I post any text in BLUE it is linked to a corresponding website.  To return back to this blog, just hit the return arrow….. upper left on laptops.
Heroine of the Titanic: The Real Unsinkable Molly Brown

Inflatable 10′ 10″ SUP Stand Up Paddle Board w/ 3PC Paddle

A Happy Camper

Our son flew into Denver from Phoenix last Wednesday.  It’s been almost 2 years since our little family of four has been together. So you can imagine, I’ve been one very happy mom lately aka one happy camper with a perpetual smile plastered across my face.Summit Lake

Thursday found us attending a Rockies baseball game that was delayed 45 minutes due to a rain storm or rather a thunder and lightning storm.  I’ll write a post about that game later.  For now I want to share our trip up to Mount Evans… one of my favorite places in Colorado; right up there with Crested Butte or the San Juan Mountains.

tallest paved road in North America
Ingrid, Al, Ashton, and Logan at the top of Mt. Evans


Mount Evans
this road is damaged in quite a few areas due to the extreme weather

After two failed attempts this summer to drive to the top of Mt. Evans, I finally made it on Friday.  I guess third try was a charm.

Be warned - this drive is not for the faint of heart
Be warned – this drive is not for the faint of heart

We left the RV at 8:30 a.m. with a full tank of gas and cooler filled with drinks, lunch, and snacks.  It’s crucial to drink plenty of water when visiting an elevation of 14,265 feet (4,348m) to help avoid experiencing any altitude issues.

Mount Evans
folks can be seen hiking from the parking lot to the top. Our family photo was taken at the top of those boulders. Can you see the little specs of people?

Our son, Logan, grew up in Colorado but now calls Phoenix, Arizona, home and has for the past five years.  He’s young and fit but even he got winded as we hiked from the parking lot at 14,130 feet to the top of the boulders at 14,265 feet.

In the photo below, we can see Summit Lake under Ashton’s pink shoe.Mt. Evans

The altitude didn’t stop the sibling rivalry between a Colorado State University ‘Ram’ and a University of Colorado ‘Buff’ (Buffalo).  CSU and CU have had a long-standing rivalry and it’s a big deal when these two universities face off in a football game.  So big, that the game is even held at the Broncos stadium; Sports Authority Field Mile High Stadium in Denver.

that's enough kids.... don't you dare push each other!!!
that’s enough kids…. don’t you dare push each other!!!

Both kids received a bachelor’s degree in Business.  Our son from CU in Boulder and our daughter from CSU in Fort Collins.  Ah, yes…. a proud mom!

Even Mr. Marmot enjoys the views

MarmotMt. EvansAfter photo ops at the top of Mount Evans, we slowly drove back down to Summit Lake for some hiking.

But before I go any further, I need to admit…. we were fricken freezing our buns off.

We were all bundled up in sweatshirts that we then took off for the photo ops.  The winds were blowing, gusting, and howling…. I swear I’m not exaggerating… it was cold and unpleasant.

The photo of the thermometer was posted on a building near the restrooms at the top of Mount Evans.  It wasn’t too bad when the wind wasn’t gusting, but boy those winds were nasty.  So bad, that the kids were afraid my camera sitting on the tripod was going to get blown over.Chicago Lakes

Near Summit Lake are some trail heads.  The hike I was most interested in was the Chicago Lakes trail.  This former Chicago gal hiking in Colorado to a place called Chicago Lakes – funny!

Mount Evans
The Chicago Lakes Trail is on a high ledge

I was really hoping as the day progressed it would start warming up, but no such luck. Ominous clouds started rolling in obscuring the warm sunshine.  The winds increased, the sky darkened, and the clouds threatened to let loose.  It was a unanimous decision to forgo any hiking and head down the mountain to a lower elevation in search of warmer temps.

Patches of snow still present in August
Patches of snow still present in August

When Ashton and I visited last summer, it was a balmy 60 degrees Fahrenheit.  Not only was I somewhat disappointed with the weather this trip, I was also disappointed the mountain goats weren’t nearby.  We did see them feeding on the side of the mountain but they were too far away for me to capture a nice photo. Here’s some photos of the goats from last summer and you can read about that trip here.mountain goatsMt. EvansLast year, the mountain goats were near the parking lot and I managed to get quite close. This year, I think they stayed on the side of the mountain that was blocked by the blustering wind. Smart animals.  Oh well, I guess I’ll just need to revisit again.Mt. EvansSummit LakeFor anyone planning on driving America’s tallest paved road to the top of Mt. Evans, here’s a few of my recommendations and info.

  1. Start early. Storms roll in every afternoon as well as the number of cyclists and general tourist traffic increases as the day progresses.
  2. The road gets more narrow the higher in elevation you get making it more of a challenge to share the road with oncoming traffic AND cyclists.
  3. Narrow road, damaged road, and severe drop-offs with no guard rails exist.
  4. It’s not uncommon for the temperature to be 20 degrees or more cooler than in Denver and/or be covered in rain clouds while Denver is blanketed in sunshine.
  5. There are two ways to access Highway 5 (the road to the top) off Interstate 70. Twice I’ve driven to the town of Idaho Springs then caught 103 to 5.  There is serious tunnel construction near Idaho Springs. To avoid the construction on this trip, I exited the interstate in the town of Evergreen then caught 103.  This was a very pretty drive with little traffic and will now be my preferred route.
  6. There is a $10 fee to drive to the top of Mt. Evans.  If you want to go only as far as Summit Lake for hiking, the fee is $5.  (since this is Federal land it’s free for those of a ‘certain age’ holding the senior pass)
  7. Altitude; drink lots of water to avoid altitude sickness, dress in layers, and hopefully you don’t suffer from a fear of heights.

Mt. Evans

I’m not sure what it is about Mount Evans that captivates me, but it does and I’m hoping to take in at least one more trip to the top before I head south for the winter.Echo Lake
Echo Lake
Chicago Lakes
Summit Lake
mountain goats

Mount Evans
this road suffers regular damage from the extreme weather

Dale Chihuly in Denver

As I continued to do more and more research on things to see and do in Denver, Colorado, I came across the Denver Botanic Garden  website and realized they were featuring a Chihuly exhibit.Chihully in Denver

You can’t imagine how excited I became upon this discovery.  When we were in Phoenix this past winter, I had every intention of visiting the Chihuly exhibit at the Phoenix Botanical Gardens.  However, my body due to illness had other plans and thus I had to forgo the exhibition.Denver Botanic GardenSo here I am, months later sitting in Denver, and I get to see first hand this gifted artists’ creations. Chihuly blown glass

I was shocked by how many pieces of blown glass were strategically placed throughout the gardens.  The Denver Botanic Garden in and of itself is worth a visit and then add to it the Chihuly blown glass exhibit and this becomes a must see.Chihuly blown glass

Ah, but to entice you further….. the first Monday of the month is free admittance day to the Denver Botanic Garden.  Chihuly, flowers, and free?   Yes, I was one happy camper 🙂Denver Botanic Garden

It’s obvious to me that Mr. Chihuly modeled the below glass sculptures after me and my curly hair.  Amazing likeness!Chihully in Denver Colorado

Chihully in Denver ColoradoI enjoyed myself so much that I may need to revisit and won’t even mind paying an admittance fee….. it is most definitely worth and bees

I leave you with a few more photos of my day.  You can never be too rich, too thin, or have too many photos….. eh!Denver Botanic GardenDenver Botanic GardenChihuly glass blowing
Denver Botanic Garden
gardening and art in Denver Colorado
Denver Botanic Garden

Chihuly 2015 Wall Calendar
gc_183444_2 Florene – Decorative II – print of famous chihuly glass art in red – Greeting Cards-12 Greeting Cards with envelopes

Denver Art Museum

This week’s WordPress Photo challenge is Zigzag and it just so happened to coincide with my trip to the Denver Art Museum. This is one unique structure that captivated my attention.  Check out the zigzag angles!WordPress photo challenge Zigzag

My cultural experience started before I even entered the doors to the museum. Beautiful architectural buildings new and old surround the area with grounds dotted with interesting sculptures.Denver Art MuseumDenver Colorado

Art in DenverI’m not sure why, but I was so intrigued by the big red chair with the horse on top.

I found it very humorous and somewhat perplexing. Perhaps those were the exact emotions the artist wanted to evoke.

Although the Denver Art Museum building alone is worth a visit, it is only appropriate to step inside and have a look around…. especially since this was the first Saturday of August – free day. Yep, the first Saturday of every month admittance to the museum is free. Gosh, we couldn’t say no to that.

interior stairway in the Denver Art Museum

I had a tremendous curiosity about how the Denver Art Museum might compare to my favorite art museum; the Chicago Art Institute.  Actually, it would be quite silly of me to compare these two museums to one another, each is unique in its own right offering a very different museum experience.Denver Art Museum

Where as the Chicago Art Institute has a serious, historical, and intellectual feel the Denver Art Museum has a quirky, modern, and fun feel.  Although the Denver Museum has a beautiful collection of art, it doesn’t come close to rivaling the collection in Chicago.  The Chicago Art Institute has a stunning display of ‘impressionist’ art by such famed artists as Monet, Renoir, and Seurat…. my faves!Norman Rockwell

Norman RockwellHowever, the Denver Museum had this Norman Rockwell painting that had me doing a double take…. definitely not the typical Norman Rockwell painting we have come to know and love.

The textile room was unique with a beautiful display of quilts as well as a specialty room filled with sewing tools, threads, scissors …. anything to do with the art of sewing over the centuries.

This flag quilt was fascinating.textile arttextile art

The painting by Albert Bierstadt caught my attention.  First it’s a painting of Rocky Mountain National Park with Longs Peak in the distance and second I’ve been to this spot.  I believe the lake in the painting is called Bierstadt Lake.  Is it possible the lake was named after the painter?Art

After touring the museum for a little over two hours, our stomachs let us know it was time for lunch.  We saw about half of the Denver Art Museum with plans to return another time to take in the other half.

As for lunch, we found a cute burger place that had just opened the day before called Burger Fi.  located at the corner of 12th and Broadway.  We thought the food was good and reasonably priced.Denver Art Museum

All in all, it was a good day and we loved all the zigzag lines 🙂
Art Lab for Kids: 52 Creative Adventures in Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, Paper, and Mixed Media-For Budding Artists (Lab Series)