Monday, July 29, 2013

Surrounded by Beauty

We are so blessed to be able to spend our summer surrounded by so much beauty. We are in the middle of a forest so we have spruce, ponderosa and limber pine and aspen all around us. We have had lots of rain and the wildflowers are just spectacular.

From 2013 July

We have also seen quite a few butterflies.

From 2013 July

There are lots of deer in the park, but they don't come through the campground very often. We did recently have several in our front yard, including the great mule deer buck.

A young buck came into the yard under the fence.

From 2013 July

Another one decided to jump a fence.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

What Else Do We Do?

We don't have cabins to clean every day we work. So, how do we fill our time? We spent a lot of time the first month or so helping clean vault toilets and restrooms. After all the summer seasonal workers arrived, we cleaned and organized the maintenance shop and cabin storage areas.

For the last month we have been refurbishing some wooden signs that are posted at hiking trail junctions. We remove the signs and sand off the old finish, then John repaints the letters.

I varnish the front of the signs and sometimes the back. Then we go out and reattach the sign to its post.

One of those poles had rotted out and had to be replaced. That meant we had to dig a new hole. John used a heavy bar to break up the ground, then we took turns with the post hole digger.

In some cases, the edges and back of the sign are painted to match the pole, so I touch up the brown paint on the sign after we put it back on the pole.

We have enjoyed the task. Not only can we do the work whenever we have free time, it allows us to hike the trails, picking up the signs and putting them back in place. We only have a couple more to do, however. So we will be looking for more new tasks in the next two months.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Gold Rush

The Pikes Peak Gold Rush began in 1859 with news of the discovery of gold along Clear Creek in the mountains west of what is now Denver. In 1890 and 1891, major gold strikes were made in the Cripple Creek-Victor area on the southwest side of Pikes Peak. By 1907, my family participated in this gold fever. That is the first year my grandfather, George E. Polhill, is listed as a miner in the area. By that time, the gold production was declining, but the family lived there until the early to mid 1940s. My mother, Dorothy Polhill Robinson, graduated from Victor High School as valedictorian in 1932.

What has that got to do with my life now, or this blog? We are spending our summer at Mueller State Park, 16 miles from Victor. Sunday afternoon, we attended Gold Rush Days in Victor. This weekend event was better attended than the first special event we attended in Cripple Creek on June 15. There were only two chuck wagons that participated in the Chuck Wagon Cook-off that weekend.

The main streets were lined with booths offering many different items for sale. There was live and recorded music, a parade, bicycle races and a chili supper.

Children were trying their hand at panning for gold.

We knew the Elks Club would be open during the event. My grandfather was a member of the Elks and is buried in their plot in the local cemetery. We knew his name is listed on the wall in the lodge meeting room and wanted to see it.

Although it's no longer being used as a school, the high school my mother graduated from is still standing. Imagine climbing these stairs to get to class.

We checked out the old Isis theater, which is now a vintage clothing shop. I think I went to a movie there once when I was very young and I know my mom would have watched movies there.

The Victor Lowell Thomas Museum contains lots of information about early gold mining in the area. This picture shows how the miners got down into the mine to work. I would have found another way to earn a living.

This is how the ore cars were put into the mine shafts.

A couple of weeks ago, we were able to see the inside of the building where my grandmother, Lydia Doolin Polhill, lived when I was very young. The building now houses the offices of the Cripple Creek and Victor Mining Company (CC&V). It had once been an office building, before being converted to apartments. A window like this was in one of the two rooms in her apartment. The space had originally been used as a doctor's office. And the bathroom was down the hall!

There is a great, wide staircase leading up from street level.

Miners no longer go underground to find gold in this area. Instead, the CC&V has a massive open pit mine above the city. We drove up to the overlook to see what goes on there. It is an impressive operation.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

It's a Winner!

The picture, I mean. Mueller State Park is holding a photo contest. Entries must have been taken in the park during a certain period of time. Winners are named in different age categories.

Since John and I don't feel we have been somewhere unless we take pictures of the place or event, this contest appealed to us. We each submitted the maximum of 3 photos for the May 1-June 30 contest. It isn't hard to find them, since I have 2 large Canon digital cameras, John has one, and we each have an iPhone. They take great photos, too.

The photo above was taken with my iPhone on May 2 after the first of two snow storms during our first few days here. I learned last night that I had won a $50 award, which I can spend in the Mueller gift shop. I wonder what I will buy?

Since I have won this contest, I don't plan to enter the July 1-August 31 or September 1-October 31 contests. John will, however.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

What a Fun Visit!

This blog is for our family--those who visited this weekend and those who didn't. The rest of you might not be very interested in this post.

For the past two days, John's sister Kendal and husband John and their two daughters, Jennifer and Kim, and their families stayed here at Mueller. Jennifer had arranged the visit. She and husband Scott, their grown children Sarah and Dylan, and John's sister and husband stayed in one of the cabins that we clean. Kim and her husband Andy camped in a nearby tent site. We also spent most of the time enjoying the cabin. This gave us the opportunity to enjoy the cabins, not just work in them.

While visiting Sunday evening, we enjoyed the deck. We heard some sounds and were delighted to be able to watch this small flock of turkeys feeding for maybe half an hour.

We moved inside and John enjoyed time with Kendal and John. Sarah took a nap.

Jennifer and Kim had some sister time.

After dinner, we celebrated brother-in-law John's birthday.

Monday morning we had coffee and conversation on the deck. Scott, Andy and Dylan left at 5:30 in the morning to go fly fishing. They were gone all day. The rest of us took a short hike to Peak View Pond.

What is going on here? They are looking for four-leaf clovers. And Sarah found one.

During the afternoon, we took a longer hike to the Osbourn Homestead with Kim.

Monday's dinner was pork carnitas, which called for all of us to assemble our meal on our own around the dining table. It was fun.

This morning, we again gathered for coffee on the deck. It was a much cooler morning, getting down to 44 degrees. Several people, including Sarah and Scott, used blankets to keep warm.

Before everyone left, everyone posed for a family photo.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

We Did It

Late last fall, after returning from our trip to Alaska, we realized we would need a new RV in the next couple of years.  We decided to check out what was available, visiting dealers and attending RV shows.  With that input, we knew we would need a 1-ton truck because everything we liked weighed more than our current 2009 Montana.  We decided to buy a new truck in 2013 and wait till next year to buy a new trailer.

In May we bought the truck.  And it now seems we aren't very good at postponing gratification.  Today we put a down payment on a 2014 Mobile Suites that will be custom built to meet our needs.  It will probably be a couple of months before we will be able to take possession.

Each of our previous 3 5th-wheel trailers we have bought almost on the spur of the moment.  Two we bought right off the lot.  Our current RV was built after we made our selection, only because the model on the dealer's lot had already been sold.  We ended up with the next one of that model delivered.

While shopping last fall, we discovered that Mobile Suites allows buyers to make any number of choices, deleting some items, replacing them with others.  With Montana, you just take the furniture they include.  With this unit, we could take what is stock, delete all the furniture, or make substitutions.  We are adding a window and some electrical outlets, for instance.

The purchase has been complicated by the fact there are no Mobile Suites dealers in Colorado.  We researched online in the Suites Owners forum, we emailed a rep at the factory and we sought quotes from dealers in Arizona, Kansas, Oklahoma and Tennessee.  Now, 45 to 50 emails later and hours of research on the computer and looking over quotes, we have finally placed the order.

Now we will spend 2 months waiting.  Every time I open a cupboard or put something away, I wonder where those items will be in the new trailer.  At least, the waiting won't take as much  effort as all the planning has.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Flora and Vistas

Tuesday we hiked Outlook Ridge here at Mueller. Three short trails go off to the left along this ridge, headed to the Raven Ridge, Red Tail and Lone Eagle Overlooks. Most of the time our hikes here take us through the forest and across high mountain meadows. So we really enjoyed the vista overlooks to all directions but the north.

We continue to have rain showers most days and we found one rock that was storing some of that moisture.

We have seen new flowers and other flora (moss) in the past few days.  This is a Canada thistle.

The columbine, Colorado's state flower, has just started blooming here in the park.

This is an orange agoseris. I have never heard that name before.

We saw two north-facing slopes covered with rich green moss. I don't know about moss growing on the north side of trees, but it does grow on north slopes in the shade.

This is a mariposa lily.

This Clark's Nutcracker was willing to pose for a portrait.

Whatever made this tree grow this way?