Thursday, August 29, 2013

An Unusual Event

We were heading out for a walk when we heard some vehicle with a diesel engine really laboring up the road. It was so loud and slow, we wondered if it was a Sherman tank. When it finally passed by, we saw a 3/4 ton truck with a large motorcycle in the bed, towing a fairly good-sized travel trailer. We started walking up the road and saw this trail of drips. It gives a new meaning to a bread-crumb trail. Were they afraid they wouldn't be able to find their way out of the park?

Then we heard the campground gate attendant call over the radio that a camper who had just left there had lost a large amount of some sort of fluid as they drove away from the gate. He suggested it might be transmission fluid. We started looking to see if we could spot that camper.

It didn't take long. We came on the noisy diesel truck, motorcycle and trailer right in the middle of the one-lane campground road. There was a large puddle of black liquid under the truck and the hood was up. "We blew the transmission," they reported. While they called their roadside assistance for a tow, we called the ranger on duty to report the blocked road.

While we were waiting for the tow truck, another camper came by, saw the problem, and offered to get a tow strap and pull the truck and trailer off to the side of the road. When they returned with their truck, they decided to unhook the trailer, tow the truck out of the way and tow the trailer to its campsite. Talk about helpful campers!

Since two park rangers had arrived to handle the situation, we went on with our walk. Soon, the friendly camper drove by, towing the stranded trailer. They were followed by a park ranger.

After we returned to our RV, we saw the tow truck responding to tow the disabled truck to a Ford dealership in Colorado Springs. Would you believe, this was the third tow truck called to the park today? As far as we know, it is the first time all summer a camper needed a tow. We just never know what to expect when volunteering in a state park.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Late Birthday

My birthday was 86 days earlier, but Sunday was the first time I was able to claim my birthday gift from Eric and his family. They had given me a certificate for dinner and a ride on their boat, which is moored on Chatfield Reservoir in Littleton. We drove down after worship at St. David's Episcopal Church in Woodland Park, where John was the celebrant.

After Eric returned from a meeting of Boy Scout pack leaders, we packed up and drove to the lake. First we went to the boat.

Next, the zip-off sides and windows had to be removed.

Then it was time to cook our burgers on the dock. This is one of the benefits of renting a slip on the lake. Each dock has a picnic area with two tables and two grills. Eric and John did the cooking, while the rest of the family put out the rest of the food.

While that was going on, Kylie decided to do a flip dive into the lake. Just look at what she can do!

Soon we sat down to a great birthday dinner--burgers, corn on the cob, baked beans and cupcakes (volcano cupcakes made by Kylie).

Next, we headed out to the boat, with the intent of cruising around the lake. However, there were dark clouds overhead and it began raining almost immediately. We quickly zipped the sides back on, then decided to turn around and return to the dock. After mooring again, we sat around and talked for a while.

We returned to their house and sat on the deck, talking, till it was time to go to bed--what a good way to celebrate my birthday!

Monday morning, Eric, Liz and Kylie left for school and John stayed at the house with us till his bus came by an hour later. That gave John and Papa time to perfect his homemade bow and arrow.

I also had time to read part of the Sunday paper, something I rarely have the opportunity do, given our lifestyle. Their dog Ziggy curled up on the couch next to me.

We then spent the day Monday completing our annual exams with our doctor and seeing the dentist before returning to Mueller. That will be our last visit to the Denver area before leaving Colorado in two weeks.

As we travel, we see lots of mismatched RVs and tow vehicles. This is a little bit of overkill, don't you think?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Indications of Things to Come

It is still summer. In the east, rain has brought flooding (also here in Colorado when rain falls on land scarred by forest fires earlier this summer or last year). In the west, hot and dry conditions have led to numerous raging wildfires. Here at Mueller, the days are warm (for nearly 10,000 ft) with highs in the upper 60s and lower 70s. We are sitting on top of a ridge, so we don't have to worry about floods and we've had enough rain, the fire danger is only moderate.

But changes are coming. Last night, the Denver and Colorado Springs areas had heavy rain and lots of hail. We didn't have any hail here in the park, but today when we drove less than three miles north and east, we saw what looked like drifts of snow on the roadside and the fields were dusted with white. The low temperature last night was about 49, making snow unlikely. And to see it still around after noon told us it must have been hail. This is the view we saw outside our car as we drove east on US Hwy 24.

We saw these mounds next to a building. If you look closely at the second photo, you will see the small hailstones.

All of this tells what will be coming soon. See this Aspen tree branch? It has turned yellow. It won't be long till the hilsides around here will be covered with gold--fall leaves.

We visited Mueller last September to interview for this volunteer position. You can check out the beauty we saw then, here.

We hope to see some of this fall beauty before we leave Sept. 9, but that may be a little early in the season.

Another sign that fall is on its way is this van and trailer. All those ATVs and coolers suggest hunting, in our opinion. I'm not familiar enough with the hunting season calendar to know where these folks may be headed.

The sky was clear Monday evening when I captured this almost full moon rising over Pikes Peak.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

We're Almost Done

And that is true in more than one way. Late last month I blogged about the work we have been doing on signs here at Mueller State Park. We only have a couple of hours more work on that project. We finished putting back all the hiking trail signs almost 2 weeks ago, right after we finished hiking all the trails in the park. Here I am, sprucing up the brown paint on the edge and back of the last sign we put in place.

The last trail we hiked was the Wapiti Nature Trail. The trail guide has 17 numbered posts so you know what part of the guide to read. This is what those signs looked like.

But what number is that on the post? They are in really bad shape. So our next project is to fix them up so they are readable. John paints the numbers and I paint the poles.

Now I think the large numbers of people who hike this trail will find it easier to follow the guide. Doesn't this look better?

It will take an hour or two for John to put a second coat of paint on the numbers, then that project will be complete.

I said we are almost done in more ways than one. We will leave here on September 9, three weeks from tomorrow. We had planned to stay through the end of September, but we learned our new 5th-wheel trailer will be built Sept. 9-17 in Indiana and we will be able to go see it before it is complete, so we know how it is constructed and can learn how everything works. We are so excited!

We will then travel for 2 to 3 weeks while the trailer is completed and shipped to the dealer in Kansas. Then we will be off to Arizona for the winter.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Great Veggies

We headed out to the grocery store this morning (actually, to the Super Walmart). On the way, we stopped at the Woodland Park Farmers Market. We have had several bad experiences with such events, but one of the rangers was eating a beautiful tomato she bought there last week, so we decided to give it a try.

Just look at these beautiful vegetables! At this stand, we were given a sample taste of their tomatoes. We returned on our way out to buy some. As a matter of fact, look at all we bought. The peaches are from Palisade and the corn from Olathe--both tops in Colorado-grown foods. We ate the corn this evening and it was wonderful.

There were booths for everything from beauty products to birdhouses to music, as well as garden produce. Even duck eggs.

Look at this cute gift shop we spotted when we parked out truck.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Lunch With Freinds

Yesterday we had lunch with friends at Fiesta Mexicana in Woodland Park. The food was very good. I had a Colorado Burrito.

And the friends made the time very enjoyable. We had such a good time, we sat and talked at this table for 3 hours, then adjourned to the parking lot for another 30 minutes. The waiter got an extra tip, rent on the space we filled for so long.

So, who are these people? The three guys worked together on the Boulder Police Department many years ago. In fact, John resigned 38 years ago. Kirk (on the left) left a few years after John and Larry (on the right) stayed long enough to retire. The women are Bonnie (left, Kirk's wife) and Betty, (right, Larry's wife).

Before we left, Bonnie took this photo outside. It proves I was there too.

In 2003, Larry spearheaded a Boulder Police reunion as part of the 125th anniversary of the founding of the department. We had been in touch with Larry over the years and John reconnected with Kirk at that event.

It was so much fun to catch up on each other's lives and the guys shared stories of their time on the department. It was a great day.

Monday, August 12, 2013

We Did It!

Today, we finished hiking all 37 trails, 44.19 miles, in Mueller State Park.  To complete all the trails, we had to hike 60 or more miles because many trails don't connect with the park road and some we have to hike out and back on the same trail.  Today we hiked one 2 1/2 mile trail, one 8/10 mile trail and small sections of two trails we had missed.  We decided before even arriving that we would try to do all the trails.  So, today we feel very good.  Here is the trail map, with every trail marked in pink as we completed it.

Our hike this morning was in the sun and there was no wind. There was a nice reflection on School Pond. You can't see it in the picture, but there were dragonflies everywhere and one hummingbird.

The last trail we did today was the Wapiti Nature trail, 0.81 mile near the Visitor Center. Really, the last should have been first. This short trail covers all the different types of scenery, vegetation and terrain in a short distance. Anyone who visits the park and wants to hike should not miss this gem.

As I have said before, we have been having a lot of rain recently. That has brought out mushrooms everywhere. I know nothing about them except some are poisonous, so we don't touch them. But they are interesting. Here are some we have seen in the past few days.

We saw one just pushing up through the dirt this morning.

Raindrops decorated this leaf along one trail.

Friday, August 09, 2013

A Museum and Crafts

Tuesday morning, we gave John and Kylie several options for our day's activities and asked them to rank their favorites.  The first choice was the Dinosaur Museum in Woodland Park--no brainer because John has been sleeping with toy dinosaurs for years.  We were a little surprised that it was Kylie's first choice, as well.  Maybe the fact that their dad is a middle school science teacher helps explain the interest.

The museum has several boxes where people can use small brushes to "uncover" dinosaur bones.  Kylie and John had to give that a try.

There were lots of skeletons hanging from the ceiling.  The museum sends out teams each year to collect fossil specimens.  They then make castings of what they find and create lightweight skeleton copies that they display and sell around the country.  They also have actual fossils with plaster replacing the original soil where they were found.  Both types of display make for interesting viewing.

From the museum, we moved to the gift shop.  That was just as popular as the museum exhibits!

Their second choice was to do some crafts with Nana and Papa.  John has learned how to use a pocket knife in Cub Scouts and he wanted to carve with Papa.  Kylie and I had already talked about my teaching her how to bead.

Kylie said she would like to make a beaded necklace.  I showed her several different ones I have made and she chose the type she wanted.  So I showed her all the different beads I have on hand.  She spent a long time choosing the ones she wanted to use and laying them out in the order they would go on the wire.  Then she strung the necklace.  When I used crimp beads to hold the beads  in place, her comment was, "That is the same thing we do to put feathers in our hair!"  How fun.

Here she is, modeling her necklace over her sweatshirt.

John II wanted to learn to carve.  Papa had a pattern for carving a Santa Face on a pencil.  He used a dowel stick, instead.  He carved the face first, then John copied the face right below Papa's.  Carving on a small round object like that takes lots of concentration for an 8-year-old.  The eye-hand coordination is really hard work.

John also wanted to show off his creation.

By then, the afternoon showers were coming in, so we put everything away and went inside. John and Kylie had lots of fun playing Old Maid, Go Fish and Slap Jack.

It was such a treat to have them with us for a couple of days.  We were impressed with how well they get along and with what interesting people they are to spend time with.  It was so fun.