Saturday, July 04, 2020

Old Friends and a Scare

Since we have lived most of our lives near Denver, when we return we always make an effort to see old friends and some family that live here.

While we were staying in St. Vrain State Park near Longmont, we met our friend Betty for lunch at Goodfellers restaurant in Longmont. Betty's husband, Larry, was on the Boulder Police Department at the same time John was.  He died in March, so it was important to spend time with her.


As you can see, we were seated outside.  A relatively safe way to meet people during this Covid 19 pandemic.  The wind was blowing briskly that day and just as we were leaving the restaurant, the umbrella you see in this photo blew off and tumbled across the outdoor dining area.  Thankfully, no one was injured.

Another day we drove to The Back Porch Cafe in Fort Collins to have lunch with John's sister Cindy.  We had a good visit--and nothing blew away that day.


While out walking our last morning at St. Vrain, we ran into friends Bob and Lindsey.  They were members of St. Gabriel's in Cherry Hills Village when John was rector there.  This is the third time we have just happened to be camping the same place as they were.



After leaving St. Vrain, we moved to Chatfield State Park on the southwest corner of the Denver metro area.  We will be here for 2 weeks.  On our first morning, I noticed a park ranger truck on the road next to our RV with its flashing red lights.  Before I could say anything, someone pounded--very loudly--on our front door.  John opened the door and was told "Evacuate, Evacuate."  I looked out the window and saw smoke.  John turned off our propane tanks and I picked up our computer and two iPads and we hurried to the truck and drove across the road to the group camping area.  This is what we saw as we looked back at our campground loop.


We were watching for several minutes before trucks from South Metro Fire Rescue arrived at the scene.  If you click on the image below, you can see one of the trees in flames.

A couple  of the younger campers had grabbed a bucket and shovel and were going to help fight the fire, but the fire department arrived to do the work.


This is the location of the fire--just across the camp loop road and one space to the southeast of us.  We are glad they put the fire out before any RVs were damaged or people injured.


We will have quality time with our son Eric and his family and with other friends during our time here in the Denver area.  We just hope there aren't any more dramatic events like airborne umbrellas or fires to spice up our lives.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Reflections and Water Fowl

We are spending several days at St. Vrain State Park near Longmont.  It is good to have spacious sites and the park is a photographer's paradise because of the numerous ponds and birds.

This is a view of the Rocky Mountains west of the park.  The large mountain may be 13,501 ft. Arapahoe Peak.


Don't we have a good looking truck and trailer?


This heron obviously summers here.  We have seen it both days during our morning walks.


Here is a shot as it flew off.

                   
                                 

And another photo as it perched in a tree.




There are numerous American pelicans enjoying the ponds. These are floating on Pelican Pond.



I found a great reflection photo of this cormorant.


Last night we had a glorious sunset.


These flowers--some sort of "weed" or wild flower--remind me a little of sunny-side eggs.


And one last reflection on Bald Eagle Pond.


Thursday, June 25, 2020

Cumbres Pass

The drive from Chama, New Mexico, into Colorado is a beautiful trip over Cumbres Pass.  The area was exceptionally green.

Over the years, we have driven over Cumbres Pass and ridden the Cumbres and Toltec train through this area.  This year we didn't get train tickets.




Soon we came on this iconic sign, welcoming us back to our home state.


This small community is situated in a pleasant valley.



Once we were into Colorado, we began to see the devastation caused by the pine bark beetle. Throughout the state, we see these large stands of dead trees. It is so sad to see.



Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Refuge hike

There are two National Wildlife Refuges near where we are parked, Alamosa and Monte Vista.  The entrance to the Alamosa refuge is right down the road.  Yesterday we drove there and hiked on a trail around the meadows and ponds.

The refuge contains 12,026 acres of land that support a variety of wildlife, including songbirds, water birds, raptors, deer, beavers, coyotes.  We certainly heard the songbirds and also saw some large birds.

The most common bird was the redwing blackbird.  They are so beautiful in flight.



This is  a view across the wetlands toward the mountains.  That may be Mount Blanca in the background.





It always amazes to see small birds chasing off larger ones.   It happens often when  the large bird tries to steal the eggs or baby birds from a nest.



This is some kind of heron. We watched it fly off as we approached.



In 2012 we volunteered at Santa Ana NWR on the southern border of Texas, along the Rio Grand River which divides the US and Mexico.  Now we are not far from the headwaters of the Rio Grand, which flows from the mountains of Colorado.  During our time at Santa Ana, we developed a real interest in the lands that are protected in these refuges.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Trinidad Hiking


We have been able to do quite a bit of hiking during our 5 days here at Trinidad Lake State Park.  I wrote about Capulin Volcano.  We also walked the Sunset Trail along the lake two days.  This morning, on our last day here, we hiked part of the Levsa and Reilly Canyon trails.

From the campground, we picked up the rock-strewn trail through the Pinon, Juniper and Lodgepole Pine forest.


At times we had good view of Trinidad Lake.


Trees and tree trunks are fascinating.  If you look at the dead log extending to the right, you can see what look like strands of rope, all in a bundle.   This tree must have broken and fallen over years ago.  On the left side you can see how those rope-like strands made up the trunk of the tree.  I can almost see each strand as a straw, drinking up water and nutrients from the soil.


John took this photo of me on our hike today.


I'm not sure this photo shows how each needle on the tree shines or reflects light.  It was almost like it was covered with dew, but it was late enough in the morning the dew had dried up.


As we returned from our hike, we had a good view of our truck and trailer down in the campground.
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Thursday, June 11, 2020

Volcanoes and Lightening

We can only begin to understand the forces that shaped our earth by reading what others have discovered and by exploring some of the natural places where those forces are displayed.  Yesterday, we went to Capulin Volcano near Raton, New Mexico.

As we looked out from the rim of the volcano, we saw another old volcano across the valley.   As we gazed at that peak, we remembered our first visit to Capulin, perhaps 15 years ago.  As we were standing on the  rim, two jets flew by--down in the valley below where we were standing.  That was quite a shock.

Yesterday, nothing like that happened.



This is the view looking down into the base of the volcano.  A paved, steep trail leads down there.



As we walked the trail, we saw beautiful lichens of various colors growing on the volcanic rock.



                                               

This sign gives some valuable information.  We have enough experience to know to avoid being exposed in a lightning storm. That became very clear when we volunteered at Bryce Canyon 15 years ago.  When you are  the highest object on the rim of the canyon, you make a good target for lightening.


                                               


During one storm that we watched from the safety of our home in Denver, a young man stepped out of his house across the street and was killed by a bolt of lightning.

I love ladybugs.  I sure didn't know they summered and laid eggs in this volcano.


Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Recreation and a Flat Tire

From Albuquerque, we moved on east and north to the Whittington NRA Center near Raton, New Mexico.  This facility has 17 shooting ranges and two nice campgrounds.  We have stayed here several times and this visit we decided to do some shooting.



All the gunshots don't seem to phase the wildlife in  the area. We saw this mule deer in our campsite the first day we were there.


These are three of the five deer we saw one day while we walked around the campground.


There are also numerous antelope (or pronghorn) on the property.




This was a site we didn't want to see. When we went out Sunday morning, one of the tires on our truck was flat!



John used our compressor to fill the errant tire. Then we searched online and on the phone for some place in Raton that could repair the tire on a Sunday morning.



We did get the tire repaired at Mesa Tires in town and were then able to grocery shop before returning to our campsite.

On a more positive side, look at this stunning sunrise John saw one morning.


From Whittington, we were on to Colorado.