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

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

Mt. Evans

Mt. EvansIt’s Sunday, our last day in Golden, Colorado, before heading west.  I’m not sure when I’ll visit with my daughter again, so I want to do something fun today.  Initially we were going to head back over to Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre for some more hiking and exercising, but since Al and I already got in a 45 minute hike at the park early this morning and daughter and I have already explored the park together, I opt for something different; a scenic drive.

When daughter arrives at the RV, I greet her with, “Let’s drive to the top of the Continent and take the highest paved auto road in North America”.  This is said with great excitement and enthusiasm.  With hesitation and a decided look of concern on daughter’s face, she responds, “Ooh….kaaay”.  All the while looking over my shoulder toward Al with the look of “Help me daddy”. LOL

Mt. Evans
Summit Lake on the way to the Mt. Evans summit

Ashton and I always have a great time on our adventures, and usually encounter some sort of funny situation that makes us laugh until tears stream down our face from laughter.

“So where exactly are we going, mom and why?”  “I want to go see goats….Rocky Mountain Goats to be exact.  It’ll be fun”, I respond.  I once again hear the proverbial drawn out, questioning, “Oh….kaaay”.  We pack a picnic lunch, bid farewell to Al, and hop in my little red truck.Mt. Evans

Mt. Evans
Mt. Evans scenic byway…it’s a long way down or up!

The Mount Evans scenic byway is located 60 miles west of Denver and is the highest paved road in North America.  The journey climbs over 9,000 feet in elevation and temperatures drop from 3-5 degrees for every 1,000 feet.  The weather is typically cold and windy, with an average summer time temperature around 42 degrees Fahrenheit at the summit.  During our visit today it was a balmy 56 degrees and dropping as the clouds started rolling in.

It’s common to have afternoon storms roll through in the Rocky Mountains and quite often accompanied by lightning.  This is one of the main reasons Al and I hike before noon.  Lightening around here is deadly and not to be taken lightly.

As we pull around the last hairpin turn and approach a parking spot at the summit, Ashton blurts out exuberantly, “Goats….I see goats”.  The vehicle is barely in park when she jumps out moving quickly toward these adorable mountain goats with me in quick pursuit, of course.

Rocky Mountain Goat
Rocky Mountain Goat

Rocky Mountain Goat

We spend 15 to 20 minutes hanging out with the mountain goats.  The baby was too cute for words.  They do occasionally cause traffic backups while crossing the road at their leisure.Mt. Evans

Mt. Evans
don’t loose your balance up here!

The summit parking lot sits at an elevation of 14,130 feet.  From the parking lot, we take a rugged quarter mile hike up to 14,264 feet.  Ashton and I notice a number of visitors struggling with the altitude and rocky terrain.  She and I don’t seem to have a problem.  Although I had fun teasing daughter that I was experiencing symptoms of hypoxia.  This wonderful mother can’t pass up an opportunity to share such vast knowledge with her off spring  🙄

We boulder around…… what feels like the top of the world, being careful not to take a wrong step.  The views are stunning.Mt. Evans

Mt. Evans

As we start the  drive back down the mountain, we find a place to pull off and a great spot for our picnic lunch…..lunch with a view.Mt. EvansMt. EvansMt. Evans

Ashton and I are so glad we took this day trip to the top of the continent.  Another memorable mother/daughter adventure filled with plenty of laughter…..scrapbook worthy, for sure.

I won’t lie, the drive at times did turn my knuckles white and daughter more than once politely (or maybe not so politely) asked me to please stop looking around and pay attention to the road.  The road is narrow and consists of lots of hairpin turns, sudden drop offs, and no guardrails.  This is an excursion I would highly recommend……start early and take your time.Mt. Evans

Rocky Mountain Goat

Mt. Evans

First Day as Full-Timers

Jefferson CountyAfter a pleasant two-hour drive north on Friday, we arrive at our destination; the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.  This was not my first or even second choice of campgrounds in the Denver area, but since we’ll be staying over the 4th of July holiday, it was the only place with a last-minute opening.

The location is very convenient for the activities we plan to do.  The amenities and RV sites?  Well, let’s just say it’s an ok place to crash in a pinch.

Jefferson County

We squeeze into one of the tight pull-thru sites and proceed to set up home.  I think the back-in sites are preferable (pictured above), but again due to the up coming holiday, we didn’t have too many choices.  Our pull-thru site shown below.Jefferson County

Our daughter swings by after work and we enjoy dinner together.  We discuss tomorrows plans which were scheduled before our house sold.  Yep, I’d say good timing on the closing.  Daughter had bought Colorado Rockies tickets as a Father’s Day gift for Al.  However….. surprise, surprise, surprise….she bought three tickets.  As I’m briefed on the third ticket, I tilt my head quizzically.  “YOU WANT ME TO DO WHAT?  WHY?”Coors Field

I’m not much of a sports fan.  I usually understand enough to get by.  Al and Ashton think it would be fun for the three of us to go to a professional baseball game together.  Really?  Hum, Saturday was my first day as a full-time RVer.  I figured as part of the adventure, I should try new things, even if I’m not exactly interested.  The word boring was probably the first thought that came to mind, “Maybe I’ll take a note pad and pen to write a blog post”.

Rockies Game
Ashton and Ingrid enjoying mimosas before the game

Daughter picks us up Saturday around 11:00 for a 2:00 game and we head into Denver.  We park across the street from Coors Field and next to Jackson’s Bar and Grille.  It’s time for a little lunch and a few drinks before the game.

Jackson’s Bar and Grille
Rockies Game
Ingrid & Al at Coors Field for a Rockies game

Well, low and behold – there’s that Gomer Pyle voice again…..surprise, surprise, surprise.  I had a great time and actually look forward to attending another Rockies Game.  I was not bored and did not use that note pad.  Also turns out, I was a cause of entertainment for my husband and daughter as my knowledge of the game was a little questionable.Rockies

As I was rooting for our team and yelling (in a reserved, lady like manner of course), “He’s out”….my hands were making the motion indicating he’s safe. 

The game entered the ninth inning tied.  I say to Al and Ashton, “If we go into overtime, I’ll buy ice cream served in one of those little baseball helmet cups”.  For those of you unfamiliar with the rules of baseball…..there is no overtime…..it’s extra innings until someone wins.  “Yeah, yeah….whatever….do you want ice cream or not?”  As we debate my lack of game knowledge, a young Rockies batter, in his second month as a pro, drove in the game winning run……the place goes wild……Rockies WIN !!!  Let’s celebrate with ice cream 🙂

Coors FieldIt was a great game;  Colorado Rockies vs. San Francisco Giants and Rockies win.  The weather was perfect with overcast skies and a light breeze.  We shared laughs, yelling, singing, and perhaps even a little dancing.  After the game, we walked around the area and Ashton pointed out some of her favorite establishments for hanging with friends.

Thanks Ashton for a great day!

FYI….in the post above; click on any words in blue and it’ll link to additional information.

Buffalo Bill

Sunday morning in Golden, Colorado, we awake to another beautiful day.  I am anxious to explore. Top on the list today is to visit the Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave.

This is an excerpt from the Golden Guide, a magazine highlighting the areas’ attraction.

Buffalo Bill
gift shop

The Wild West comes to life at the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave, operating near Golden since 1921.  Enjoy exhibits of rare artifacts, try on cowboy clothes, and discover if Buffalo Bill visited your town.  And, of course, visit Buffalo Bill’s grave and enjoy the spectacular view from atop Lookout Mountain.  Complete your visit by browsing through the Denver area’s largest museum gift shop and enjoying a buffalo burger at the cafe.

As we embark on this excursion, we don’t bother to look at a map, which is so unlike us.  We had noticed the directional sign yesterday on our way into town – to Lookout Mountain – and figured there was only one road, which turned out to be true.  So we feel it’s not like we could get lost.  However, we didn’t realize the climb in elevation and the switch backs involved.

Golden Colorado
We drive by the ‘M’

The views were breathtaking and more than once we were at eye level or even higher than the paragliders.  In yesterday’s post, I posted photos of this mountain in the distance.  I had no idea we would be driving by the ‘M’ on the mountain today.  How cool is this!

paraglider above Golden, CO
Buffalo Bill
William and Louisa Cody’s grave

Once we reach the museum and gift shop, we are greeted with views in all directions.  We can see why William “Bill” Cody wanted to be buried on Lookout Mountain.  The scent of Pine fills the air.  Al and I take our time taking in the view and filling our lungs with the fresh mountain air.  We take a well-marked trail through the pine trees to Buffalo Bill’s final resting place.  His wife, Louisa, is also buried here by his side.

After a moment of respect, Al and I return to Buffalo Bills Pahaska Teepee, the gift shop and no it’s not a teepee, but there is a teepee in front of the museum.  The gift shop is filled with every imaginable trinket one can think of.  Al notices a sign, “buy a T-shirt and receive 1/3 pound of fudge free”.  Well, FREE sign me up.  The search for T-shirts ensues.  There’s Al, Ingrid and two kids.  I’m always picking up T-shirts for the kids.

Buffalo Bill
Buffalo Bills Pahaska Teepee – Gift shop

My hunt was somewhat successful with the purchase of two shirts…one for Al and one for me, none for the kids.  Thus, a piece of fudge for Al and a piece of fudge for me 🙂  We head outside, once again taking in the view and air while enjoying our fudge….yum.Paragliding Golden Colorado

Time to head back to camp and await daughters arrival for dinner.  What a fun day!

Exploring Golden, CO

Clear Creek Golden Colorado
Clear Creek, Golden, CO

Wow, it was great sleeping weather last night here in Golden, Colorado.  This morning we even popped the heat on in the RV to take the chill out of the air.  This cooler weather has given Bear a burst of energy and at 6 a.m. he’s ready for his walk around the “mountain”.  With sweatshirt on, coffee in hand, we’re off to tend the morning business.

Turns out this weekend (Aug 18-19) is the annual Golden Fine Arts Festival, as well as Saturday (today) is the weekly Farmers Market.  Well, it’s pretty obvious what Al and I will be doing.  We couldn’t have planned this any better.  AND the weather….oh, my absolutely perfect.

Although Golden is a super friendly dog town, we leave Bear behind for his much-needed morning nap and head into town.  First stop, the Farmer’s Market.  This Farmers Market is three times the size of the Farmers Market we frequent in Canon City.  Al, Mr. Socialite, engages in conversation with several vendors prior to making any purchases.

Farmers Market Golden Colorado
Al visits with vendors
Clear Creek Golden Colorado
tubing in Golden, CO

We enjoy some fresh squeezed lemonade and head on over to the Fine Arts Festival.The Farmers Market is held near Golden’s Library on the north side of Clear Creek and the Fine Arts Festival is on the south side of Clear Creek.  We take the pedestrian bridge across the creek, but not before stopping to watch all the folks enjoying the water.

Tubing….I love tubing, whether in the water or on snow.  I soooo wanted to do this but was not prepared.  Later in the day, daughter joins us and she and I promise to set a date to tube Clear Creek….fun!

Fine Arts Festival Golden Colorado
Fine Arts Festival Golden Colorado

Golden is full of outdoor adventure from tubing or kayaking Clear Creek, to paragliding off Lookout Mountain, to being a bicycler’s paradise. Golden is also home to the Colorado School of Mines.  Thus the large ‘M’ on the mountain in the background.

Coors Beer Golden Colorado
Coors Brewery in background

However……..Golden, for many of us, is known as the home to Coors Beer and still remains home even though our friends to the north (Canada) now own a stake in the company.  In 2005 Coors officially became Molson-Coors Brewery and in 2007 they partnered with Miller now marketing under the label Miller-Coors.  But, Coors is still brewed in Golden with the same cold, crisp, mountain waters.  I remember back in the 70’s when Coors Beer was “smuggled” across State lines.  All of us, under age Illinois kids fought over this famous mountain beer.  This smuggling of Coors Beer was even featured in the movie “Smokey and the Bandit“.  Distribution back then was very limited and the possession of this infamous beer was a status symbol.  It was such a big deal that when Air Force One was stocked with Coors Beer, it even made the news.

Tomorrow we’ll go see Buffalo Bill’s Grave……

Golden Colorado
Daughter spends the afternoon with us