Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Family Visit

Last week John's sister, Kendal, and her husband, Johnny, drove down from Canon City to visit and go to lunch with us. John has two older sisters and one younger brother. We don't see them often, so it was good to have Johnny and Kendal come. Years ago, when we all had young children, we camped with them often. Those memories are among our fondest. We didn't camp in state parks much back then, so Johnny and Kendal had never been to Lathrop State Park. After chatting outside our trailer, we drove them around the park to see this great place we have been living since late April. Then we drove into Walsenburg and ate at the Iron Horse Restaurant. We had heard their lunches were good, and we all enjoyed our meal a lot.

This is our last week here. We only have two days off because of the July 4 weekend. Apparently, since July 4 is on Saturday, many people have Friday off for the holiday. That means they will come to the park on Thursday evening. The Camp Store will be open Thursday evening, all day Friday and Saturday, and Sunday morning. That means one extra five-hour shift for me. Saturday evening there will be a fireworks show in the parking lot of the hospital across the road from the park. We will leave here on Tuesday morning.

We will miss several things about Lathrop--especially the birds singing, the lakes, the wildflowers, our RV site, and the people with whom we have worked.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

More Snakes, Fishing and Family

Last night, I tried to do this blog. About 2 hours into it, my internet connection cut off and I lost everything. So, today I am posting it in two parts to make sure I get it all up.

Sunday evening, Kylie and John had fun playing in the sand at the edge of Martin Lake while we were preparing dinner.

After dinner they spent some time fishing with their dad. It was a beautiful evening, but nobody caught anything.

Monday morning we biked to their campsite and spent time riding around with our grandchildren. Our trip around the campground loop was the first time John had ridden his bike without someone holding on to him—a real triumph! We had so much fun.

Next we were off to the Kid’s Fishing Pond, where Kylie and John fished some more. Then Kylie, John and Liz went to the swimming beach and Eric, John and I went fishing. Look at this great bass Eric caught.

John spent some time giving Nana and Papa kisses at this fishing spot.
Here we spotted another snake, a large Bull Snake, maybe 5 feet long. It decided we were too close and quickly beat a retreat by swimming over to a nearby tree and reaching up to a branch then climbing up the tree. We were amazed. But we didn’t get any photos.

We celebrated John’s upcoming 4th birthday at dinner. He had lots of fun opening his gifts from Nana and Papa. The Cars flashlight was his favorite.

Tuesday we were sad to see them leave right after breakfast. But we will be in the Denver area soon for another visit.

Snakes and Fishing and Family

This weekend we had a wonderful visit with our son, Eric, his wife, Liz, and our grandchildren, Kylie and John. They camped at Lathrop to celebrate Father’s Day with us.

Saturday night we ate dinner at our RV and we even had a campfire! That is really unusual for us. It sure helped keep us warm. Saturday evening was cool and breezy. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday were warm and sunny and had just about the calmest winds we have seen in our time here. We had great weather!

Sunday, after John celebrated Holy Eucharist for all of us at their camp site, and after John and I worked for a short time, we all went for a hike. With a boy almost 4 and a 9-year-old girl, it takes a while to go 2 miles. We took turns reading the trail guide. We found a spot among the sandstone rocks to eat our lunch. Here you see Liz taking her turn, reading, and John eating lunch.

John woke up early that morning, so near the end of the hike he climbed up on his dad’s shoulders and fell asleep.

Their dog, Ziggy, got really tired, too. Is she saying, “Are we there, yet?”

All of us, including John, were wide awake a little later when Liz and Kylie heard this Diamondback Rattlesnake along the road leading from the Hogback Trail. The snake rattled it tail and hissed as it slowly backed away from us. That was our first-ever encounter with a rattlesnake. It may be hard to see, since it was in the grass.

For Sunday dinner, Eric and Liz brought steaks from our favorite specialty food store, Tony’s. They put together a great for both Father’s Day and Mother’s Day, since we had not been able to get together in May. The steaks were excellent, as was the rest of the meal.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Spanish Peaks Hike

Yesterday we hiked a great trail out of Cuchara, a small town maybe 20 miles from Lathrop State Park. We went with Norm and Nan, one of two campground host couples here at the park. The trail head was hard to find, so we did some driving and backtracking before we found it.

The Dike Trail is 3.5 miles long and goes along one of the dikes that radiate from the Spanish Peaks, west and south of where we are staying. These walls of rock radiate out from the Spanish Peaks like spokes of a wheel. They are from 1 to 100 feet wide and up to 100 feet high and as long as 14 miles.

This is a good view of one of the dikes, taken after we hiked to the top of the trail.

We hiked through heavy forest and lots of wildflowers. This was one of the prettiest. I don't know what it is called.

About 1/3 third of the way along the trail, we heard a crack in the forest to our right. John looked around, then signaled to me to come look. There, going up the hill, was the back side of a Black Bear. It couldn't have been more than 50 feet away. Thank goodness, it was headed away from us. We spent some time talking and thinking about the bear, then decided to keep hiking. We kept talking so the bear would know where we were and avoid us (we hoped). This is our second bear sighting this year.

We couldn't see the dike very well, but when we had hiked a little over 3 miles, we came to a place where we could cross the ridge and found great views behind the dike. It was a great place to eat a snack before starting back down the trail. We had gained nearly 1,000 ft elevation. Going back down was much easier.

On our way back to the park, we stopped in La Veta and bought ice cream at Charlie's Grocery. Benches line the sidewalk there for tourists and locals to sit on while they eat their ice cream. John had a single dip vanilla; I had a double dip of huckleberry and orange sherbet.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Not for Sissies

When I was young, if I thought about my body at all, it was to make sure my clothes looked OK and I had my make-up on right. Later, the concerns were: Can I get pregnant? What will it do to my body if I have babies? How do I lose all this weight I gained while pregnant?

For years, none of this was very important. When I finally accepted that it wasn't good for my body to smoke, I chose to forget about what the weight gain looked like—I ate instead of smoking.

Later, the issues became--watch my cholesterol, take hormone replacement therapy to protect against hot flashes and osteoporosis and (they thought) heart disease. In 2002 scientists decided HRT wasn't good for women. What to do? I started lifting weights to strengthen my bones. Along the way, I lost all that weight I gained after quitting smoking. They I took up running, as well. I have become fit and thin.

But what about how my body looks. Would I rather be fat with smooth skin or thin with wrinkles? I'm really not sure about that.

But does that take care of all the issues with my body? Not by a long shot, not at the age of 66. I take aspirin every day—doesn't everybody? That means anytime I make contact with anything hard, I get bruises, or what we call "old person marks ." Then there are the cataracts I had removed. And the arthritis. And the sore shoulder—an MRI shows I will need surgery somewhere along the line.

Oh yes, did I mention the plantar fasciitis?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Exercise and Hunting

For two weeks I didn't run and I walked as little as possible. I am dealing with an episode of plantar fasciitis. When rest didn't get rid of the pain, I searched the internet for suggestions. I followed the advice and last Friday began running again. It feels so good to be outside, exercising and experiencing nature. Exercise is good for both my body and also for my spirit.

Today we rode our bikes and went hunting—not with guns, but with cameras. Lathrop State Park includes land managed by the park but owned by the Colorado Department of Fish and Wildlife. Horseshoe Lake is there, as well as several wetland areas, one with a duck viewing blind.

We started out crossing the Horseshoe Dam, where we have been running the past week. We can't ask for a more beautiful place to get our exercise. This morning we saw a Blue Heron and a Western Grebe. This is a picture of Horseshoe—it is a wake-free body of water. There were at least six boats out fishing when we went hunting.

The trail over the dam also looks down on the pond at the end of the Wetlands Nature Trail. What a peaceful place.

On the west side of the lake, we took a path down to the water's edge, startling a Red Racer snake. We have never seen one before. This is a link to a photo I found on the internet. www.members.tripod.com/jrreptile/id83.htm

The snake is really red and was about 4 feet long. We watched it slither down into its hole. While John waited to try and get a picture of the snake, I took pictures of birds in the trees.

We stopped at a next pond we found Cedar Waxwings. I couldn't get close enough to get a decent picture. However, at the next pond, we had a spectacular view of several Yellow-Headed Blackbirds. Isn't this a striking bird?

We also got close to the duck blind. We'll have to wait a while to use it, unless we want to go wading.

Monday, June 08, 2009


There are wildflowers in abundance at Lathrop State Park, if you look for them. Right now the yucca and the prickly pear cactus are blooming. It is pretty easy to spot them. The yucca blooms stand about 2 feet high. And the large yellow flowers on the prickly pear really show.

And the large yellow flowers on the prickly pear really show.

Isn't this thistle beautiful? The flowers are very showy, but there aren't a lot of them, so many people probably miss them.

So many of the flowers here hug the ground, like this evening primrose. If you aren't paying attention, it is easy to think someone dropped a piece of paper on the ground. Then you miss this delicate blooms.

Below are some of the smaller flowers growing at Lathrop. They are harder to spot, if you're not looking.

Every morning, we wake up to the song of numerous birds. As we walk or bike around the park, we see and hear many others. Living surrounded by nature this way is one of the many blessings of the life we have chosen.

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Bad and Good Today

This is what the cabinet, where our living room TV belongs, looks like tonight.

Here is John carrying our TV out to the truck. See the awful look on his face?

Here is our cat, PC, exploring the empty TV cabinet.

Here is what the TV cabinet should look like. When will it look that way again?

For more than two weeks, we have not had any TV in our living room. On Sunday, May 17, John turned on the TV in the afternoon and the screen lit up, then immediately turned off. The same thing happened several times. In the following days he made calls to Sylvania customer support, a Sylvania authorized repair service in Pueblo, about 50 miles north of here, and finally the nearest authorized dealer for Keystone/Montana RVs, only to learn they were still on "winter hours" and therefore closed on Mondays.
On Tuesday, May 19, John talked to the "parts guy" at the Montana dealer in Colorado Springs. He took the serial number of our TV and said he should have a new one in a couple of weeks.
Yesterday, after two weeks of having no Satellite TV (the installer could never make it work on the bedroom TV), and only limited antenna reception in the bedroom, John again called the parts guy. He asked for our trailer VIN number, then checked (on line, we guess) and found no action. He promised to call Keystone and get back to us. No call.

Today, John reached him again. He reported Keystone was closed when he called yesterday and he would get back to us in a few minutes. After 3 more calls to him, John finally asked to talk to the owner. It took 2 phone calls with him, but we finally have approval to take it to a Sylvania repair facility to see if it can be fixed. If not, they will pay most of the cost of a
new set.

Why didn't all this happen two weeks ago? We wish we knew.

However, today had its rewards, as well. This is our new wireless internet router, which came via Fed Ex today.

We have changed from Sprint broadband wireless to Verizon. While we waited for the end of the billing cycle to cancel the Sprint card, we discovered how nice it was to be able to go online with both computers at the same time.

That led to a call to the 3G Store, a business we have read about in RV blogs and saw at the RV Rally in Albuquerque we attended in April. We order the router, which will allow up to 16 people at a time to go online with our broadband card—at least until we upgrade the security and keep others out.

Who says it tough to live on the road in an RV?