Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Mountain Scenery

Although there are numerous wildfires burning in Colorado, we haven't had any problem here in Mueller except for smoke a few evenings. We have been able to enjoy the beautiful forest here on our morning hikes. On Friday, we hiked to Peak View Pond before going to work. There was no wind and so the pond had nice reflections.

There were grand vistas along the trail, as well as the forest.

Aspen trees are what provide the wonderful fall colors in Colorado. At this time of the year, they are green and beautiful. There are many large aspen trees in the park.

On Monday's 6-mile hike, we walked through beautiful forests in a remote part of the park.

At times the ground was covered in a thick carpet of grass.

Near the end of the trail, we saw this Mountain Bluebird either building a nest or feeding her young. The photo isn't great because of the light, but isn't this a cute bird?

There were also lots of wildflowers blooming, but I will save them for another post. I do want you to see the beautiful valley we pass each time we drive into Woodland Park. Wouldn't you love a view like this out of your front window?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Family Visit

Our grandson, John, turns 8 this week. He will also spend his first week, ever, at summer camp. Since the camp is located not far from Mueller,the family came to Mueller overnight Saturday before taking him to camp. His sister Kylie attended the same camp the last two summers. We were delighted to see them. Life at their house is really busy. They couldn't leave Littleton until John's swim meet was over. It was about 7:30 in the evening when they arrived.

Our volunteer site has a tent pad, so the first thing was to set up the tent. When that was ready, we started a camp fire. Anyone who knows us, knows we don't like campfires. But the temperature was about 62, so a campfire was better than crowding into our RV. And Eric, Liz, Kylie and John all really enjoy a fire.

We had small gifts for both John and his sister, Kylie, as well as John's birthday present. Here, John is reading his birthday card.

Sunday morning, we had breakfast at the picnic table before they left for camp.

Kylie is really involved in competitive swimming. We hope they can come spend some more time camping with us, but Kylie has swim practice 7 times a week, so we don't know if it will work out or not. Is sure was fun to spend time with them.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

It's Our Job

Mueller State Park has three very nice cabins. They are 2-bedroom, 3-bedroom and 4-bedroom cabins with fully equipped kitchens, great living rooms and decks, and all linens are furnished. Here are some shots of the 4-bedroom Ponderosa.

Our position here is cabin technician. That means we were given our RV site in return for cleaning the cabins each time they turn over. We work 20 hours a week, each. On our days off, the rest of the maintenance staff does the work.

So, what do we do? John cleans the bathrooms. First he folds the towels.

Then he hangs them on the towel racks and fills the extra-towel rack.

He cleans the toilet (I didn't take a picture of that) and the sink.

And mops the floor.

I make the beds. when cabin guests leave, they are asked to strip the beds. So, I start with a bed with just a mattress cover.

First the fitted sheet.

The top sheet and blanket need hospital corners, of course. I always made our beds in the stick house that way, so it is no problem.

We split the rest of the tasks--cleaning the kitchen and outdoor grill, dusting, vacuuming and sweeping.

Today, we cleaned the 2-bedroom and 4-bedroom cabins. I made 6 beds; John cleaned 3 bathrooms and 2 grills. All of that took almost 4 hours.

On days there are no cabins to clean, we find other tasks. I'll blog about them some other time.

I have really come to appreciate my RV sheets. The top sheet is fitted at the bottom end. That means I never have to make those hospital corners or tuck in the comforter.

Monday, June 17, 2013

More Hiking

There are 50+ miles of hiking trails here at Mueller State Park.  This is the trail map.

Before we leave in the fall, we hope to hike most, if not all, of these trails. Highlighted in pink, here is a map of the trails we have been on so far.

We hiked to three ponds on our last two hikes. Last week, we saw Never/Never Pond.

We have been told the name comes from the fact it is never full and never dry. We thought it looked more like a puddle than a pond.

Today, our hike took us to two ponds. Lost Pond is little better than Never/Never.

There was a duck floating around on the pond. I think this is a female mallard.

We probably saw her mate on Geer Pond, the prettiest pond we have seen here, yet.

On last week's hike, we saw two buck mule deer that were growing their antlers. This one was the best looking of the pair.

We also saw these flowers. I think they are some variety of cinquefoil. Anybody know for sure?

Today, we spotted this black-chinned hummingbird.

We also saw several of these swallow-trail butterflies. Since I don't have a butterfly book, I can't identify it more definitively.

As always, the countryside we walked through was beautiful.

What other delights will we find as we hike other trails here?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Going Walking

Before I tell you about our morning walks, let me tell you a little about the wildfires burning in Colorado. Mueller State Park is just southwest of the Waldo Canyon fire that ravaged this area last summer. And it sits about half way between the Black Forest fire north of Colorado Springs and the Royal Gorge fire west of Canon City, burning now. We are fortunate that we haven't seen smoke here. But the fire damage, especially in the Black Forest, is immense. That fire is probably the most destructive, based on the financial loss with 360+ homes burned, ever seen in Colorado. As of this morning, the fire encompassed about 70 square miles, with an evacuation area of 94,000 acres and 13,000 homes. Some 38,000 people have been evacuated. There are two confirmed dead.  Our prayers are with all these people whose lives have been so disrupted.

The Royal Gorge fire has destroyed 48 of the 52 structures at the Royal Gorge Bridge Park. The bridge has been damaged, but not too severely, at this point.

There are at least two other fires in the state, as well.

Now on to more positive things.

Every morning we are trying to walk 2 to 4 miles. At 9,600 feet above sea level, John is walking with me, not running. Mueller has some 50 to 55 miles of trails, so we have lots of choices on where to go. The scenery is great.

Look at these balanced rocks.

And the wildflowers are really starting to bloom. So far, I haven't identified any of them, but we sure enjoy seeing them.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Lunch With Family

We have spent so little time in Colorado over the past year that it is good to reconnect with family this summer. That is one of the main reasons we choose to spend our summer at Mueller. Yesterday, we met John's sister Cindy and her husband John in Manitou Springs for lunch. We had only met them for lunch twice last year and it was time to get caught up.

None of us had spent much time in Manitou for many years, so we decided to walk around until we found a good looking restaurant. We both parked in the same parking lot, then walked toward the center of town. John took this picture of me, Cindy and John as we explored the area.

We looked across the creek and noticed Adams Mountain Cafe. It looked interesting and they had outdoor seating right along the creek edge.

It was a good decision. We were able to sit outside and our food was very good.

In addition, our waitress was happy to let us sit there for as long as we wanted, even though the restaurant quickly filled up for lunch. We talked for over two hours before strolling back to our trucks and home. It was a great visit. It was a time to catch up on family and diiscuss summer plans.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Seen This Week

Tuesday, we hiked to the Osborn Homestead here in Mueller. In 1915, Earl Nealy Osborn built his home on this land and lived there with his family until the mid-1920s. At that point, they moved into nearby Divide so the children could attend school more regularly. The cabin is in really rough condition, but it was interesting to look at the homestead. They raised cattle and grew potatoes.

John took some interesting photos of the cabin construction. It looks like all the work was done by hand, without benefit of electric saws. The interior had been covered with cardboard. The family did have glass windows.

I found a dark-eyed junco that was building its nest.

We also saw an evening grosbeak.

However, the highlight of the week was a black bear. Thursday, we were driving our mule along the main park road when we saw Rich and Penny taking pictures down the hill. We stopped to see what was so exciting and saw this bear. The photo was taken with my phone and it isn't really great.

Rich had a much better camera and emailed me copies of his photos. Isn't this a good looking bear? We loved sighting this type of wildlife.