Fourteeners…

Several blogs I follow share their adventures of hiking.  I’ve been inspired by their stories.  Inspired by the photography.  I can’t wait to explore some of these trails myself.  I throughly enjoy hiking, but in the past I haven’t had time to hike more than an hour or so.    Therefore, I have never built up the endurance for much past a four to five mile hike, nor did I have the desire.

Pikes Peak

a snow-capped Pikes Peak behind Garden of the Gods

After reading the accomplishments of fellow bloggers, I am motivated to hike longer and further….motivated to increase my endurance…..motivated to push myself….motivated to explore beyond my dreams.  I actually have an interest in one day hiking a “Fourteener” and  it is now on the “bucket list”.  As I contemplate this goal, I am reminded of a post I did last spring.  A post about “Fourteeners”.

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If you live in Colorado, you obviously know what a Fourteener is.  For those of you unfamiliar, it’s a mountaineering term used to describe a mountain that exceeds fourteen thousand feet above sea level.  Climbing all of Colorado’s Fourteeners is a popular pastime among hikers, especially here in Colorado.

Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak,  Colorado Springs, Colorado

Alaska has the tallest Fourteener; Mount McKinley in Denali comes it at 20,320 feet in elevation.  Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, Colorado, places 57th on the Fourteener list in the United States coming in at 14,110 feet above sea level.

Although I love to hike, I know my limitations.  Thus, hiking a Fourteener has eluded my repertoire of activities, as well as the bucket list.  I have the utmost respect and admiration for those whom have accomplished hiking all of Colorado’s Fourteeners.  I just won’t be one of them.

Grand Junction

Me with daughter and my brother at The Monument

I do enjoy a good hike.  Whenever we visit my brother and sister-in-law in Grand Junction, Colorado, we always manage to squeeze in a visit to The Monument, even if it’s only an easy one hour hike.  That being said, last year daughter and I were on such a hike with my brother and his wife.  The Monument is so beautiful, any hike is better than no hike and a trip to Grand Junction just would not be complete without this activity.

We hiked, we explored, we climbed rocks for photo-ops and that’s when it happened.  A sound escaped my brother…..”Hum, excuse me”. he says slightly embarrassed.  I comment, “No problem.  Consider yourself healthy and normal”.  I proceed to brief him on a recent Dr. Oz show….a show on flatulence, a show about passing gas.  Dr. Oz…. gotta love him.  According to Dr. Oz, the average, healthy person passes gas fourteen times per day.

AND THUS…..the new meaning of a FOURTEENER was born !  Have you accomplished a Fourteener?  🙂

The Monument

Really, Mother? Really???

Grand JunctionGrand Junction Colorado

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Spring has Sprung

Ah…Spring, my favorite time of year.  As a former flat lander, I love seeing the snow capped mountains in the distance while hiking in seventy plus degree temperatures.  I never get tired of the view.

New life and growth are in abundance.  The birds are chirping and busy trying to find that perfect spot to build a nest.  The Quail and the Bunnies chase each other.  We encounter deer while on a bike ride along the Arkansas River.  Yes, Spring has sprung.

However, I won’t be fooled by Mother Nature and plant annuals prior to Mother’s Day.  Whether living in Illinois or Colorado, Mother’s Day seems to be the safest time to start planting.  You never know when that last freeze will occur and damage all those precious baby plants.  Having been lulled into a false sense of security in the past, I will be patient and wait for the date on the calendar to start the yard beautification process.

Pueblo West, CO - prairie dog colony in foreground, Pikes Peak in background

Several of my potted plants have remained in bloom through the winter.  Hum, how do I manage that?  I’ve been known to purchase most of my flowers for the decorative pots from the Hobby Lobby “nursery”.  I can count on plastic to remain in bloom without water.  Keeping plants alive in the high desert has its challenges, and I’ve found my answer at Hobby Lobby.

With my ever-growing interest to travel more, my interest in gardening has waned.  Thus the yard work this year will be minimal at best.  After all, I have that “travel” bucket list to work on……  Happy Travels!

Fourteeners…..

If you live in Colorado, you obviously know what a fourteener is.  For those of you unfamiliar, it’s a mountaineering term used to describe a mountain that exceeds fourteen thousand feet above sea level.  Climbing all of Colorado’s fourteeners is a popular pastime amongst hikers.

Alaska has the tallest fourteener, Mount McKinley in Denali comes it at 20,320 feet.  Pikes Peak places around 57th on the fourteener list in the United States coming in around 14,110 feet.

Pikes Peak, Colorado Springs, CO

Although I love to hike, I know my limitations.  Thus, hiking a fourteener has eluded my repertoire of activities, as well as the bucket list.  I have the utmost respect and admiration for those whom have accomplished hiking all of Colorado’s fourteeners.  I just won’t be one of them.

I do enjoy a good hike.  Whenever we visit my brother and sister-in-law in Grand Junction, CO, we always squeeze in a visit to The Monument, even if it’s only an

me, daughter & brother

easy one hour walk.  That being said, last year my daughter and I were on such a hike with my brother and his wife.  Daughter was still suffering from jet lag having recently returned from studying a semester abroad in Sydney, Australia, and a three-hour hike was out of the question.  The Monument is so beautiful, any hike is better than no hike.  We hiked, we explored, we climbed rocks for photo-ops and that’s when it happened.  A sound escaped my brother……”hum, excuse me”, he says slighty embarrassed.  I comment, “No problem.  Consider yourself healthy and normal”.  I proceed to brief him on a recent Dr. Oz show….a show on flatulence, a show about passing gas…Dr. Oz, gotta love him.  According to Dr. Oz, the average, healthy person passes gas fourteen times per day.   AND THUS……the new meaning of a  FOURTEENER was born !

Have you accomplished a fourteener ?  🙂

Local Attraction…

Alas, my friends, we have returned to Colorado.  It’s not quite two weeks since our return from the “adventure” and Al and I are antsy to get out and explore.  We wish we were still out on the road exploring in our RV.  The Rig is sitting on the side of the house, empty and locked.  She’s had a thorough cleaning inside.  The outside will need to wait for more cooperative weather.  Just as we anticipated, we had a snowstorm a few days after our arrival back in Colorado.  The moisture however was definitely welcome and very much-needed.

The snow has since melted at the lower elevations and this morning we were blanketed by fog.  The weather is expected to be in the upper 60’s and sunny.  Pikes Peak is gorgeous with a fresh coating of snow and I’d like to take some new photos of the mountain.  With that in mind, Al and I decide to take a short hike in Garden of the Gods and go out to lunch at one of our favorite Cafe’s in Colorado Springs.  Prepared for the day we head out, hoping the fog burns off, leaving us with an unobstructed view of Pikes Peak.

Snow capped Pikes Peak

Our first stop is my favorite scenic overlook on Mesa Dr. just north of the visitor center.  The mountain looks spectacular.  The sky is as blue as can be, and the wind, oh the lovely wind, will take anything not firmly latched to the ground, off to Kansas.  Just three miles east, it was as calm as could be.  The wind surprises us.  I’d like to use my tripod to capture a photo of Al and me, but the wind has other plans.  Since we were planning to hike, I brought my light weight tripod which is no match for these winds.  Not wanting my camera to eat dirt, we forgo the self-timer on the camera and I search for a willing tourist to assist in my photo-op quest.  Never mind, the winds are whipping my hair and I’m having trouble seeing.

With these ridiculous winds, we decide to forego the hike.  Al and I decide to stop in at the Trading Post for a look around, and a much-needed potty break.  This is a must see stop when visiting Garden of the Gods for the first time.  There’s a little cafe, coffee shop, and more tourist “stuff” to purchase than you can imagine.  Their book section also offers some comfy seating.  In addition to the Trading Post, I would highly recommend stopping at the visitor center.  The visitor center offers free maps and a ton of information on Garden of the Gods.  Definitely worth the stop.

Last year we hike to the Siamese Twins

Not far from the trading post is the parking lot for the hike to the Siamese Twins.  This is a hike we’ve taken numerous times in the past.  It’s super easy and the views are amazing.  The parking lot and trail are clearly marked on the maps handed out at the visitor center.  I guess we will just need to reschedule for a less windy day.  Another fun activity, one we did a few years back….horseback riding through Garden of the Gods.  The near by stable offers one to three-hour tours.  If you visit in the summer, be sure to go on a weekday.  Weekends are super busy and bustling with tourists from around the world.

It’s approaching lunch, an early lunch, and Al and I are anxious to savor some tasty Escargot.

Our favorite Cafe

LaBaguette has remained one of our more desirable places for lunch for the past five years. LaBaguetteFrenchBistro.com  They have delicious soups, especially French Onion, as well as some of the best Escargot Al and I have ever had.  They are located at 4440 N. Chestnut St. in Co. Springs.  The original location and still very much active, is located in Old Colorado CityThis is an old, historic part of Colorado Springs, located off Hwy 24 and just south of Garden of the Gods.

Parking at both locations can present a challenge.  Parking at the Chestnut location is easier but can sometimes be a problem as it’s a small lot.  However, on Chestnut down just a tad, parking can usually be found.  The area can also be congested, and thus I would not recommend big rigs.

After a lovely lunch, Al and I return to Garden of the Gods in hopes the winds may have died down.  At least enough to allow our hike to be enjoyable.  20-30 mph winds take the pleasure out of the ability to enjoy the surroundings.  Much to our dismay, the winds have only worsened.  The severe gusts….50 mph + are churning up dust and dirt and are obscuring the bright blue sky.  Oh well, we decide to head home knowing we are in a position to return another day.  Yes, we are lucky to have such beauty in our backyard.  I plan to do future posts on the area with more details on campgrounds, restaurants, and sites to see.  Until then, happy travels !