Saturday, July 30, 2016

Sightseeing in Beautiful Downtown Rawlins, WY

There is something interesting to see almost anywhere you go. And Rawlins, Wyoming, is no exception. I'm not sure I would want to move there, but we enjoyed looking around the downtown area. First there was the train station. The two sections of the building have very different facades.

Then were were the murals on the sides of the buildings.

The Rawlins Western Lodge found a very talented artist to decorate the area in from of the motel. I have seen a lot of sculpture made from found metal objects. This the first time I've seen such good work made from found wood.

The front of this downtown store was decorated with ceramic tile. Very unusual. Sorry about the light pole in the middle of the photo. I couldn't work around it.

Our RV park, Western Hills, also had lots of good decorations mainly portraying the western heritage in Wyoming.

So far, we are enjoying our time in Wyoming.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

There was more to see at St. Vrain State Park than reflections. Of course bird watching is always rich with all that water around. At first I thought this might be an otter or muskrat. What do you think?

As we walked a little further it went underwater. When it appeared again we were looking at a cormorant. It had been looking underwater for something to eat. You could have fooled me at first glance.

We also saw pelicans.

As we walked around Bald Eagle Pond, we thought we might be looking at eagles.

But nearby there was a nest platform. When I checked it out with my zoom lens I realized it was an osprey nest.

On the far side of the park, we saw some old abandoned ranch buildings.

It was a great place to spend a few days.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

What a Surprise

For several years as we have driven I-25 north of Denver we have passed St. Vrain State Park. It is a fairly new state park and we really didn't think we were interested because it is right along the highway. This trip we wanted to stay in the area for a few more days, including a weekend, in hopes we could receive the title paperwork for our new trailer and get it registered. Since our favorite parks--Chatfield and Cherry Creek--are booked solid on weekend months in advance, we decided to try St. Vrain.

What a delightful surprise to find a great state park. There is some highway noise in part of the park, but there are also numerous ponds, providing good scenery and trails and, most of all, reflections. And I can take pictures of reflections all day and (almost) all night. Here are just a few of the photos we took.

One view I didn't care for was this one. But when you are in an urban area, you can't have everything.

We did do a few things besides walking 5 miles a day around the ponds and taking photos. We were able to register both the new truck and the new trailer and we met Longmont friends Larry and Betty for lunch.   Hopefully we will see them in Arizona this winter.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

On our last day in Canon City the focus was on the funeral of our sister-in-law Diane. Because she had lived in the community almost all her life and was active in school and civic affairs, the family arranged to hold the service in the largest church in the area. John was the officiant. After the service and entombment in Mountain Vale Cemetery, once owned by his and Tim's father, we drove to our trailer in Pueblo West and headed to Cherry Creek State Park near Denver.

There were some interesting and really attractive cloud formations during our time in Pueblo West.

While at Cherry Creek, we celebrated our daughter-in-law Liz's 50th birthday. We took dinner to their house. She had a special birthday wine glass and there were 5 candles on the cake we brought.

We also saw a beautiful sunset while at Cherry Creek.

The park also has a few mule deer.

At the end of the week we headed north, hopefully headed to our major destinations of Glacier and Grand Teton National Parks.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Family Time

We have been in Canon City for nearly a week, waiting for the funeral of our sister-in-law Diane. John will officiate at that service tomorrow. In the mean time, we have a lot of quality family time.

We have been with John's brother Tim as he grieves his wife's death and John and he went to breakfast one morning. We have visited with our nieces and nephews who are grandchildren. One of John's sisters also lives here and we have had quality time with Kendal and John.

Tim and Diane have 11 grandchildren. Nine of them have been here. Add in one granddaughter-in-law and there have been 10 teenagers waiting with us. Friday it was time to find something interesting for all of them to do. Canon City is on the edge of the Royal Gorge, also known as the Grand Canyon of the Arkansas River. Here is a link to a Wikipedia article about the bridge.

We went to the Gorge with the whole crew. Here is just part of our group, waiting to enter the visitor center.

We walked out to the bridge, then crossed the gorge. Below is a view down to the Arkansas River.

The gorge complex included a big swing that the rider takes out over the gorge, a gondola that goes across and a zip line. John and I and our niece Megan took the zip line and several others rode the gondola. We were all able to do this at no cost because one nephew works there and has a nice boss who gave us all complementary entrance.

Here is a picture of John coming to the end of the zip line and me starting my ride starting. The view from up there was wonderful and the ride wasn't nearly as scary as I thought it would be. It was a first for all of us.

After our outing to the Royal Gorge, we all visited the funeral home to view Diane's body. (Both John and Tim and their father were funeral directors.)  Then the local Evangelical Free Church provided a dinner for all of us. There was lots of good food and good conversation.

When families are spread out all over the country, funerals and weddings are where people come back together for mutual support and love. It has been a full week of that here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Makiing Adjustments

The past month has been a time of adjustment. A month ago today we traded in our Mobile Suites 5th wheel for a new Airstream. The MS had approximately 350 square feet of interior space. The Airstream has 224 square feet. That 125 square feet doesn't sound like much--maybe a large walk-in closet? But we reduced our living space by 1/3. That is taking a lot of mental and emotional effort to adapt to.

We lived full-time in a 5th wheel for 6 years. It contained everything we owned (except for what was in a small storage unit). For the past year and a half we have lived half the year in the RV, the other half in a small (719 sq ft) house in Arizona. When we moved into the house 2 winters ago, we left everything that we didn't need in the RV. So we had a lot of down-sizing to do. We have 8 large boxes of stuff our son Eric will ship to us in Arizona in October.

After that process, we had to figure out how to store things in this new, smaller trailer. It has been disorienting, stressful and irritating. Most of all, the small amount of floor space just to walk around in is an issue. We have to turn sideways to pass each other in the hall between the kitchen and the bedroom. The shower is tiny. There isn't much counter space in the kitchen. Much of the storage is at floor level--I get down on my knees numerous times a day. At least it keeps me flexible. But it has been emotionally trying, big time.

In addition to storage and space issues, we have to adjust to the location of cabinets and other hazards. For instance, there is the corner of this cabinet.

Monday night John leaned down to throw something in the trash--but his head hit the corner of the cabinet before he got to the wast basket. We made a trip to the emergency room. They first bandaged the head to get the bleeding stopped. Then they put in 10 staples to keep the wound closed until it healed. Ouch!

We are changing our way of living out here on the road--we are camping, yet we are still living in the RV. The 5th wheel had at least 13 feet of clothes rods. Now we have about 2 feet in addition to the few items we are hanging in the back seat of the truck.

The holding tanks are much smaller.  Each tank holds just under 40 gallons.  That means the tanks have to be emptied every 3 days.  On the positive side, the dump valve handles in the 5th wheel had gotten nearly impossible to pull in and out.  In the Airstream they operate easily.

In past years, we traveled cross-country in a pop-up tent trailer and were able to do that just fine. We only had 2 ice chests, no refrigerator and one suitcase, no closet. Our first 5th wheel had the same size refrigerator/freezer we have now. It will be fine as soon as I learn how much I can buy at one time. It means shopping more often.  (On one trip with that 5th wheel as we returned home from Philadelphia, the freezer door fell off.  We duct taped it back in place until we could get it repaired.)

There are really good aspects of the move as well. This trailer weighs 10,000 pounds less than the 5th wheel. It is so much easier to pull. And we can do it with a new, smaller truck. No more big butt dually! And the gas mileage is much better.  We even pulled into a Wal Mart parking lot this week to do some shopping.  That was a first.

We don't have to worry about any hydraulic slides or a hydraulic leveling system. There are only 2 steps up to the front door. We had 5 steps up into the 5th wheel door and three more into the bedroom!

Although we had 5th wheel trailers for 19 years, John never got really good at backing them into RV sites.  He had been using various types of bumper-pull trailers most of his life.  He is glad to be back to parking that type of trailer.

Before our 5th wheel had such problems, we were thinking about buying either a pickup camper or a popup tent trailer so we could park in campgrounds with smaller sites, like national parks and forest service campgrounds.  With this new trailer, more of those places will be open to us than with the 5th wheel.  And we no longer have to carefully watch signs for clearance under bridges.  The Mobile Suites was 13 ft 9 inches tall.  The Airstream is only 9 ft 9 inches.  Very few places we can't go with this trailer!

Over the winter we plan some changes/improvements. We hope to replace the gaucho couch with recliners.  We might also try to have some extra storage space built in. We're excited about that.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Now There are Six

John's parents had four children over 14 years. In 1968 John's brother Tim was the last of the four to wed, marrying Diane Marie Hutton. Since then the four brothers and sisters and spouses have been through a lot of fun, companionship, support, sadness and stress. The sadness returned Friday night when Diane died, less than a year after sister Cindy's husband John died.

Tim and Diane were the best of friends and constant companions during their 48 years of marriage. Now we are waiting to find out the funeral service details.

Tim called us Saturday morning about the death and yesterday we moved from Creede to Canon City to be with him. John will be conducting the funeral. We will be here at least until Saturday.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Hiking Near the Sand Dunes

When we spend any time in Alamosa we are usually planning to ride the Rio Grande Scenic RR which goes from there to LaVeta and back. We didn't do that this year but the Great Sand Dunes National Park is right next door and we hadn't been there for years so we decided to go on a hike or two nearby.

First we tried the Zapata Falls National Recreation Area. The hike require 3 miles on a very rough road. Although we have owned 4-wheel drive trucks for years, that isn't to go on rough roads but because they have a better resale value in Colorado. This wasn't a jeep road--there were lots of passenger cars. But it was very rough. I drove it anyway, in our brand new truck. (It was so trying, I asked John to drive back down after the hike.)

This is what the road looks like, once you enter the Zapata Falls area.

The trail to the falls was rocky but a good, short 1/2 mile walk. When we reached the river, the water was high and fast.

The best way to view the falls is to wade in the water but there is also a bridge that gives you a view without getting wet. Looking at that water, I had no intention of wading up to the falls. Where is the bridge?

It looks like I might get stuck in this tree, trying to get up that close to the waterfall.

I did get through, reaching a point we could see these folks up ahead in the creek.

People coming back after wading to the falls said they were up to their knees in the cold, rushing water. Neither of us were interested so we never did see the falls. I stole the picture below from the National Park website. Really wish we could have seen it in person.

On our way back down from the trail head, we saw this truck and small trailer that apparently decided he didn't want to continue on to the campground that is next to the trail. We thought he had good sense.

On the 4th of July we hiked in the forested part of the Great Sand Dunes before taking a look at the dunes. We went on the Mosca Pass trail, turning around after about 2 miles. It took us through great high Colorado mountain terrain with aspen and conifer trees.  We went into the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness Area.

There was a small stream running along the trail.

When we finished that hike, we drove to the Visitor Center at the Great Sand Dunes.  We haven't been there for years and years, but we know we don't like walking the the sand.  Our first trip there was in the late 1970s with our sons Doug and Eric and nephew Craig.  At that time, the Medano Creek was running in front of the dunes.  We saw that again on the 4th. Just look at all those people! And if you look carefully at the line of people climbing up the sand ridge in the center of the photos, it almost looks like the Alaskan image of people on the Chilkoot Trail.

We had some good views of the sand dunes both days.