Monday, August 21, 2017

Eclipse Viewing Near Rifle

We went hiking in Rifle Falls State Park today during the time of the solar eclipse. In this part of the state we were told there would be a 90% total eclipse. It was cooler during that time and it looked like dusk. The shadows were as dark as normal but the sun didn't feel as hot when were out in it. What made me most aware of the change in the light was the color of my transitions eyeglass lenses. This is the color the turn in full sun.

This is how dark they were 8 minutes before the 90% eclipse seen here in Rifle.

You can see the contrast of sunlight and shadow I photographed right at the greatest eclipse here.

At first I thought this was just an interesting pattern from the narrow-leaf cottonwood trees. After seeing other people's photos, I think it shows the moon covering the sun.

During the hike we came on a young woman with eclipse glasses and she let us look through them.

Looking through her glasses, we could see just a narrow crescent sun peeking out around the sun 10 minutes before the greatest dark of the eclipse. At almost the same time, this is my iPhone photo of the sun. (I knew not to look directly at the sun. I read taking a photo of the eclipse would let you see it. It didn't.)

Our son Eric had several pairs of eclipse glasses and offered to try to get them to us. But since we were leaving Denver in a couple of days and were busy, we said no, we'd just pay attention to the dark that came with the eclipse. We didn't realize what a really big deal this solar event (lunar event?) was. But our experience was interesting and we did get one glimpse of what we could see through those glasses. Really amazing!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Colorado at it's Best

We were both born and raised in Colorado and have lived in various parts of the state for most of our lives. This summer we left our winter home in Arizona and drove to the East Coast and back. But nowhere have we seen mountains like the Colorado Rockies. After spending 6 weeks in the Denver metro area, Friday we turned our truck and trailer west on I-70, headed for the Western Slope. We rarely drive over 200 miles a day so a stop was planned for Silt--about 190 miles from Cherry Creek State Park. We will stay here for 4 nights so when we check in to Ridgeway State Park we can stay till Labor Day. The trip took us from an elevation of just over 5,000 ft. to the Eisenhower Tunnel at 11,013 ft. and over 11,000 foot Vail Pass. The scenery on the way was great.

See what I mean about it being the best of Colorado? Eisenhower Tunnel was completed in 1973, providing a safer and quicker route over (or under) the Continental Divide. It is impressive.

Coming out the other side, we passed by condos in Dillon, more great mountain views and Dillon Reservoir. This year the water is fairly high in the reservoir.


I had never seen a sign like this. I think it indicates there is a runaway truck ramp coming up so the driver shouldn't try to exit onto nearby Loveland Pass. I'm not sure.

The scenery just kept getting better. First we saw some red rock formations.

Then we headed into Glenwood Canyon. This canyon has stunning rock walls. The highway here was constructed so as little of the rock was removed as possible. The only way to really appreciate the efforts they took is to ride the Amtrak train on the other side of the Colorado River or walk or bike on the trail along the highway. We were pulling our Airstream so I can only use words to describe the road. In places the lanes in one direction are built above those going the other way. That way they didn't have to widen the roadway from the old two-way route along the river.

When I was a child my family came to Glenwood Springs for our annual week-long vacation every August. We have come here with friends--both by car and by train--and brought our 2 sons here. We really aren't into swimming pools today so we will skip some very expensive time in the huge hot springs pool. But the entrance fee is worth it if you have children or have not been there before.

Friday, August 18, 2017

We spent two weeks at Cherry Creek State Park in Aurora in the southeast corner of the Denver metro area. We have been there many times before and it is a good place to relax and just be. The park is in the middle of the city but there is lots of open space. Mainly it was a time to see family and friends. The first Sunday we went to Eric and Liz's home for brunch. Liz and Kylie put together a nice menu for us. Grandson John showed it to us before it was time to eat. We had a good visit and took advantage of the time because Eric and Liz were back to work preparing for the first day of school on Friday. Liz is a teacher coach and Eric is a middle school science teacher.

One day we drove to Longmont to visit friends Larry and Betty. We had attended their 50th anniversary party in July but it was good to have time with just them so we could really talk. We brought a bucket of Kentucky Friend Chicken to share instead of going out to a restaurant.

The next day we drove to Canon City to visit John's sister Kendal who is in a nursing home receiving therapy following a stroke. Here she is with her husband John.

Then we went out to lunch with him and Tim, John and Kendal's younger brother.

We had an issue with our trailer while staying at Cherry Creek. The overflow vent on the fresh water tank began leaking. That shouldn't happen when a hose is not filling the tank in the opening behind this door. You can see the slow but constant drip from the tank in the second photo.

After asking on the Airstream internet forum for advice, we found it was a check valve stuck open. We followed the instructions and got it unstuck. It was pulling water from the city water connection, something it isn't supposed to do. But it is now working properly.

I love the skies over Colorado. Here are some of the cloudscapes I saw.

Now we are off to the Western Slope of Colorado.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

State Park Wildlife

So far this summer we have spent nearly 5 weeks in Colorado state parks and we have 3 weeks to go. Two of the parks, Chatfield and Cherry Creek, are in the city. Nevertheless, we have seen quite a bit of wildlife. Nothing dramatic but interesting for sure.

We have seen deer in each state park. These were crossing the road right behind our trailer yesterday.

We have seen great blue herons here at Cherry Creek and at St. Vrain.

Today we saw this egret.

This little cottontail rabbit came to watch John carve the other day.

This is the 3rd bull snake John has seen, a first for me this year. I know they are harmless but I don't like snakes of any kind or size. This one is pretty, though, isn't it?

Of course, we see Canada geese all over the place  in Colorado at this time of the year.  They are on both land and in the water.  They leave a real mess.

And these turkey buzzards  are seen all across the country.

Bears and elk and maybe a mountain lion would be good to see, but we are enjoying the animals we have seen in these state parks.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Keeping Busy

Taking it easy is more than sitting with our feet up. We have both been working on our hobbies since we moved to the Denver area. When we left Arizona in April I packed one figured maple bowl I had turned but still needed to sand. I also brought 10 wooden rings I had cut on the scroll saw. I made them into a basket. I did the scroll saw work at least 2 winters ago but I had been avoiding the tedious sanding needed to complete the project. Sanding is my least favorite part of working with wood!

With lots of down time, I finally finished sanding both projects. I then assembled the basket, gluing the rings together, and painted it. I finished the bowl with a mixture of polyurethane and oil. I am really pleased with how both items came out.

For the past 3 years John has been carving a large nativity set, a few figures each year. He has completed carving 15 figures, 4 of them this year. He has also cleaned up 2 diamond willow hiking sticks. When we return to Arizona he will paint the nativity figures and give each hiking stick a minimum of 6 coats of polyurethane.

We're having fun.

Tomorrow I report for jury duty, so I won't be needing any hobbies for at least a day or two.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Time With Family and Friends

Chatfield State Park is always on our route through the Denver area. It is just a few miles from the home we lived in till we went on the road full-time and it is only a few minutes away from our son Eric's home. Another reason to spend time here this summer was so we could attend a 50th anniversary party for our long-time friends Larry and Betty. Two years ago they came to our 50th and we wanted to celebrate with them when it was their turn. We drove to Boulder where Larry and John were both members of the Boulder Police Department in the late 1960s and early 1970s. So many people never make it to 50 years of marriage and it is special to join in the party when a couple does that.

Here Betty is holding her 50th anniversary champagne glass, ready to respond to the group's toast to the couple.

Since we only see Eric's family 2 or 3 times a year, it is important to spend as much time as possible with them when we are here. They own a pontoon boat which they keep on the lake here at Chatfield during the summer. Liz was out of town but Eric and our grandchildren Kylie and John came out to see us. We cooked our dinner on the grill at the dock.

When we finished eating we all boarded the boat and Eric carefully backed it out of it's slip in the marina.

We enjoyed the ride across the lake.

But it wasn't long before the sky became dark and threatening.

Eric quickly turned the boat around and put the pedal to the metal so we couod get back to the dock before the storm hit.

After the boat was moored at the dock, we all pitched in to close the sides of the boat before the rain really drenched us.

We sat in the boat for nearly an hour while the rain came down. We talked and we shared some old photos in our Google Photos albums. When the rain ended we emerged, only slightly wet, and started for our trucks as the skies cleared. The storm was the typical Colorado afternoon weather pattern.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Where Did That Come From?

Where on earth did this really long screw come from?  We didn't know what the problem was but when John checked the trailer tires Thursday in preparation to drive to Chatfield State Park on Friday, he found that one of the tires only had 30 pounds pressure instead of the normal 65.  Oops!

We called our road service company, Coach-Net, and they sent out a tow truck from the nearby town of Berthoud to remove the low-pressure tire and put on the spare.

We were very impressed with the service.  Coach-Net called to tell us the truck would be there in 45 minutes.  The driver, Jake, called us when he was 10 minutes away.  And by the time he had started to work we received a call to be sure help had arrived.

John watched as Jake jacked up the trailer.

Once the tire was off, they inspected it to see if they could find the problem.

Yep, the screw pictured at the top of this post was imbedded deeply in the tire.  No wonder it was leaking air.  Jake put in a plug so the tire wouldn't leak and put it back on the trailer.  One of these days we will have the tire repaired even better, but hopefully this will hold till we return to Arizona.

We needed to get on the road Friday so we could see family in Littleton.  We shared adult beverages and chips and dip with our son Eric and his wife Liz and grandson John.  Kylie, our granddaughter is in Oregon swimming the in sectional meet.  We will see her next week.