Friday, September 28, 2012

Seeing Friends

We have had a good time seeing friends during our stay here in Denver.  By the end of this week, we have had lunch with two couples who are long-time friends. Thursday, we visited Larry and Betty at their new home in Longmont.  We have known them since our time in Boulder, when John was on the Boulder Police Department.


Sunday we visited with a number of friends at St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church, where John was rector in the 1990s.  It felt good to reconnect with those people and treasure the time we had there.

By the time we leave Colorado for Arizona, we will have seen both of John’s sisters and his brother and their spouses, as well as having several good visits with our son Eric, wife Liz, and grandchildren Kylie and John.  Wednesday we had dinner at their house. 


Over the winter in Arizona, we hope to have time to connect with RVing friends who also winter in the Valley of the Sun, as well as Colorado friends who come there to get away from the snow.

Living on the road, like we do, makes this time with family and friends even more special than it might be if we stayed here in Colorado year-round.  We spend most of our time away from these family members and friends.  John is my best friend, we talk almost non-stop, and really enjoy each other’s company.  But that doesn’t mean we don’t want and enjoy other people.  They are important to us.

Some RVers make new friends each night, wherever they are parked.  They enjoy sitting around a campfire—or just in a circle of friends in the campsite—getting to know one another and sharing stories of life on the road.  They quickly and easily hook up with others for daily meals out and sightseeing excursions.  That isn’t our style.  First of all, we don’t like campfires.  And we rarely go to a restaurant to eat.  Most of the time, we like to travel and sightsee on our own schedule. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Another Boat Ride

Friday, we moved from Chatfield State Park in Littleton to Cherry Creek State Park in Aurora.  Fourteen days out of 45 is the limit we can stay in any individual park. Before we packed up to move, we had a dramatic sunrise because of the smoky sky.


Saturday, Eric and his family brought their boat to Cherry Creek to check out the lake here.  We met them at the boat launch and spent about 3 hours cruising the lake.  It was a beautiful day.  They have a nice looking pontoon boat.


There was a large flock of pelicans on the lake.


When we came too close, they took flight.



This gull was feasting on a fish.


There were a number of western grebes on the lake.  They kept diving under water, looking for lunch.  This isn’t a great photo, but I did finally catch one above water.


We really enjoyed watching these cormorants drying their wings and warming up in the sun.


There were lots of sailboats on the water.  Since there was a decent wind, it was fun to watch them.


And, of course, we took pictures of our grandchildren.  John posed as a tough guy.


And Kylie showed us some ballet positions.


After they pulled the boat out of the water, everyone came to our RV site for a late taco lunch.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Aspen Leaves and Mining Towns

Yesterday we drove to the mountains between Colorado Springs and Cripple Creek. The aspen trees painted the hillsides with gold and orange.

These colors never last long so we are glad we had the opportunity to see them this year. It has been several years since we last had the time or opportunity to see them. We could see the nearby hillsides well, but the longer vistas are covered with a haze of smoke. Fires in Wyoming, Idaho, Montana and Washington are really filling the Colorado skies.

The smoke makes the sun glow red in the morning and evening. When I take a picture of it, the sun shines through and the smoke looks red.

Cripple Creek and the nearby mining towns of Victor and Goldfield are important to me because this is where my mother grew up. This sign at the edge of Cripple Creek is new.

A tourist train operates in town and this engine is named Goldfield, for the town where my mother was born.

Buildings in town were constructed right next to one another. This shows what is left when one building is torn down.

Some of the buildings have been spruced up, usually to house one of the casinos. This is the home of the Brass Ass.

This sign is very appropriate for one of the richest gold mining districts in the country.

We walked through a combination antique store and ice cream parlor. We saw this old advertising sign.

Anybody need a foot bath?

This is the high school my mother graduated from in Victor, about 7 miles beyond Cripple Creek. You can also see some of the smoke in the picture.

A few people still live in nearby Goldfield, but this house has seen better days.

The day was both a beautiful drive and a walk down memory lane.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Busy, Busy, Busy

We haven't been here in the Denver area for quite two weeks, but we have accomplished an amazing amount of work. This is our home base, so there was a lot to do. There have been the medical appointments: my mammogram, lab work for both of us, our annual physical exams, checkups with the dermatologist for both of us. All of those are done. We are happy to report that we are both healthy. We also got our flu shots last week while shopping for groceries. Next week we get our teeth cleaned.

But there were other items on the list we made as we drove here. We had to get an emission test on the truck. You might remember last March when we tried to get that done while we were in Texas. It seems they don't test diesel pickups there. We were able to renew our registration and license plates only by promising to have the test done when we came to Colorado in September. After passing the emission test, we had to go to the county clerk's office to get a new registration form that didn't have the big red warning about not having the test completed.

We have a storage unit here and needed to visit and pick up the items we left in May, knowing we wouldn't need them in Alaska.

One of the air bags in our truck suspension system was damaged during our travels, so we had both of them replaced. Purchasing new bikes was another item we have been able to cross off the list. We are looking for new chairs for the RV, so we visited the Lazy Boy store, but they didn't have two of anything we liked.

What is still on that list, in addition to the dentist appointments? A meeting with our financial adviser and getting the truck serviced.

All these are work to be completed. The social activities--spending time with Eric and his family, seeing friends, visiting John's sisters and brother--are all part of another list. We are working through that, as well.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

New Wheels and Family

The new wheels are NOT a new tow vehicle. Our 2008 Chevy 2500HD is doing just fine. Last winter, as we planned our Alaska trip, we knew we wouldn't need our very old, rusty, limited value bikes on that journey. We decided to give them away, put the bike rack that goes on the front of our truck into storage, and buy new wheels when we returned from the trip. That is what we did this week.

We bought two new bikes at the Bike Source store in Littleton.

They are comfortable and easy to ride with hand brakes and variable gears. We like them and will enjoy using them in the two state parks we stay in here and in Arizona.

Saturday we asked our son to take us on a tour of Costco. We know lots of RVers swear by this store and wanted to see if we should join, too. It turned into a family outing, with Eric, Liz, Kylie and John showing us what they liked about the store.

Eric and the two grandchildren were fascinated with the IntelliSeat toilet that doesn't need toilet paper because it includes a water-cleaning wand and warm air dryer. Could you ask for more?

Grandson John loved this big bear.

We saw lots of things we would buy, if we had a larger house and a larger freezer. But we decided we would have to work hard at making the membership worth it, so we didn't hand over the $50 for a year's access.

From there, we went to Summerset in Littleton, an end-of-summer fair with loads of people, lots of booths and a car show.

We saw lots of old and newer cars that are cherished and spruced up by their owners. I think this green car may be an old Ford.

Eric and Liz are very active in their community and both teach in Littleton schools, so they knew lots of people there at the gathering. When John II spotted the bungee jumping area, he wanted to take a ride (if that is what you call it). After a long wait, he was fitted into the harness.

Soon he was bouncing high in the sky.

This is Kylie and her mom, Liz.

And Eric with his dad.

Every morning I try to go for a 3-mile walk here in the park, while John does his run. I stopped running in April because of the arthritis in my knee. This week I bought new shoes, then tried to run a little. I am now up to running 1 mile in short segments. Maybe it was the shoes, not my knee, that was causing the problem. I sure hope so. I like to run.

Most mornings when I am out, I see hot air balloons in the air. These 3 were out yesterday.

And this one, named freedom, was skimming so close to the lake surface, we worried it might go in the drink. It didn't.

We have also had great sunsets here at Chatfield.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Tuesday we had a good lunch and great visit with old friends, and I do mean old. Yes, we are all getting older, but what I am talking about is that we have been friends since 1966, shortly after both of us married. This week we got together with Dave and Kathy at Panera Bread nearby and we sat and talked for nearly three hours.

In the earliest years, we got together to play bridge. Then we had two boys each, at about the same time. We camped together, traveled together, were in a bridge group together, and talked. It was good to see them again and share stories of travel and grandchildren.

All summer, Colorado and much of the rest of the country has been very hot and very dry, while we spent our time in the cool and often wet north. So, what is this in our campsite at Chatfield State Park in Littleton?

It's rain. Wednesday it started raining sometime around 4 am and kept it up till mid-afternoon. This area received over an inch during that time. We know they desperately need the moisture here, but we are tired of cool and wet weather.

After it stopped raining, the sun came out for a while. But after dinner the sky again looked threatening. The storm must have gone somewhere else, however.

During an evening walk we saw all these sailboats on the park lake. According to Eric, they hold a regatta here on Wednesday evenings. Years ago he was on a friend's boat during a regatta and described it as barrel racing in slow motion. We once saw one on Grand Lake on a day with virtually no wind and it was almost like watching a still-life painting. The sailboats are pretty, though.

I continue to be impressed with our new Canon SX 40HS digital camera. I took this picture of a hot air balloon on the other side of the lake. If you click to enlarge it, you can even see the fire inside as the balloonist went up. The picture of a hummingbird on the balloon is also cool.