Thursday, May 31, 2018

Phantom Canyon--Beautiful but awful

The shortest route from Canon City to Victor is driving up Phantom Canyon. Perhaps that is why the railroad carved out it's route through the canyon in 1894. It is not, however, the fastest route. The trip was just under 20 miles, creeping along the gravel road with lots of washboard sections. We climbed 4,000 feet in that 20 miles and it took us over 2 hours. The scenery made the trip worth it, but we said, "Never again."

My mother grew up in Victor and nearby Goldfield, graduating from high school there in 1932. I have been to Victor a number of times over the years. I think this is only the second time we have gone through Phantom Canyon. Victor and Goldfield are in what is called the Cripple Creek Mining District. Gold isn't found on level, soft ground unless it has traveled there by stream from higher altitudes. My grandfather was a gold miner in Victor.

The canyon walls are steep and rocky.

Since it is May, the trees have leafed out and the ground cover is green.  I was sitting in the back seat of the truck and caught a few pictures of the sideview mirror as well as the scenery.

This one-way tunnel shows the hard rock the mountain is made of. The tunnel isn't long but if we had met another vehicle, someone would have had to back up.  Even on the open road, there often was not space to pass another car or truck.

This is the way Colorado mountain sides should look, in my opinion.  Thankfully, there are many better roads to view them from.

This was probably our best mountain excursion for the summer. Soon we will return to lower altitudes and warmer temperatures--at least until we fly to England.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Visiting With Family

Sunday, on our last day in Canon City, after attending worship at Christ Church, we had lunch with many members of our family.  We gathered at John Abbott's house for burgers.  Other family members brought salads and condiments.  We took pictures of many of those who came. 

 John and Andy


Tim and Todd

Jarid and Tim

Devin, Jarid, Gabe and Andy

John Abbott and Kim.

There were others there, too, but both of us became so involved in talking to people we stopped taking pictures. Sorry, Mike, Megan, Vicki, Jordan and any other folks we missed getting photos of.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Honoring Family Who Have Died

We spent four days in Canon City which put us near where numerous family members have died, John's parents, his sister Kendal, our sister-in-law Diane, as well as my grandfather who is buried in Victor, a town just under 30 miles away from Canon City--if you take a really washboard, curving road through Phantom Canyon. (More about the drive and Victor in another post.)

My grandfather's grave is located in the Sunnyside Cemetery outside Victor, in the Elks Rest section.

The mountain cemetery has no perpetual care.  /weeds and grass grow where they will.  I am the oldest living relative and only relative living anywhere nearby and we hadn't been to the grave for 5 years.  The whole grave looked like the ground you see here around the headstone.

Friday John and I and our brother-in-law John Abbott drove to the cemetery and the two men used a shovel and a rake to clean the grave. Before leaving John's house we had picked peony flowers and I put some on the newly-cleaned grave.

The next day we met John's brother Tim and his daughter Megan at Mountain Vale Cemetery where Tim and John's parents, Tim's wife Diane and John Abbott's sister-in-law are entombed and his parents are buried. Megan helped with some of the work decorating with more peonies.

Next we were off to nearby Lakeside Cemetery where John Abbott's aunt and uncle are buried.

Our last stop was at Christ Episcopal Church in Canon City where John's sister Kendal's cremains were placed in the columbarium in January.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Diplomas and honors

What a time we had visiting our son Eric and his family in Littleton. Two diplomas, two honors and awards ceremonies, a band concert, and great food. First we listened to the end-of-the-year band concert at Goddard Middle School where Eric teaches and grandson John is a drummer in the 7th grade band. It was the first time we heard John perform.

Two days later, Eric received a master's degree in education, emphasizing administration, from Argosy University. It is his second master's degree. Granddaughter Kylie wasn't able to attend Eric's graduation because it was her last day in high school.

The same evening we celebrated Kylie's last day at Heritage High School and Eric's graduation with Champaign and a great cooking and a fruit pizza.

But wait, there were more events to come. On Monday Kylie was honored as the outstanding female athlete at Heritage for 2017-18. Here she is listening to her coach tell why she was the recipient of this award.

She was also given the chords to be worn at graduation indicating she was graduating with honors.

The next morning we arrived at Goddard before 8 am for the awards ceremony where John was named as a member of the National Junior Honor Society. He received an award for good citizenship because he is one of two students who raise the flag in front of the school each day. He was also one of 10 boys and (I think) 10 girls nominated for Viking of the Year at Goddard. These candidates are nominated by the faculty, interviewed, and assigned to write an essay which was evaluated by faculty and staff. He was not the Viking of the year but what an honor to be nominated.

Wednesday was Kylie's high school graduation. She is the first girl in a red gown in this photo. She is waiting to walk across the state to receive her diploma.

The mascot for Heritage is the eagle and as we sang the Star Spangled Banner to begin the ceremony, this magnificent American bald eagle spred his wings.

As the graduating seniors left the field at the end of graduation ceremonies, the faculty and staff, including district administrators, formed an honor guard for the recessing graduates. Quite impressive.

We left Littleton as very proud parents and grandparents!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Travel Preparation

We have been preparing for our trip to London, begining in mid-July. In fact, we have been preparing for 3 months, so far. We will be spending 2 months traveling around England, staying in 6 hotels in 5 cities London twice) as well as 6 National Trust Cottages. All of those stays are reserved. We also have car rentals reserved in 2 different locations. We were not able to rent a car through Expedia for more than 30 days, thus two rentals.

John is trying to get his head around driving in the wrong direction again. He did that before. I have to prepare myself for that, as well. We decided to have both of us registered as drivers. We never know when something will happen and the main driver won't be able to take the wheel. This week we visited AAA in Centennial to get our International Driving Licenses. They are the main agency across the country that provides those licenses.

We have purchased two suitcases, one to be checked and one to carry on with us. We have been traveling by RV for years and we got rid of all but one small, carry-on size bag. We won't be using it this trip, however.

We have researched cell phone SIM cards so we can use our cell phones in England without paying really big bucks on a Verizon international plan. We are reading travel books, studying the map of England, and researching where our ancestors lived in that country before coming to America. Learning more about those ancestors is a major focus of the trip.

Above I said we would be staying in National Trust Cottages. Those are historic buildings around England that have been converted into what are called holiday cottages. On our last fairly long trip to England we stayed in the Coast Guard Cottage on the Isle of Wight, in the lighthouse keepers cottage at the White Cliffs of Dover, and in an Arts and Crafts home outside London. We can shop in the local grocery stores and cook our own meals when we are lodging in these cottages. We're looking forward to it.

I hope to blog as we travel through England. We will have to wait and see what kind of internet we have. Also, we are each taking an iPad but leaving our laptop computers at home. Blogging is much easier on the computer.

This trip is how John and I are celebrating our 75th birthdays. We don't know how many more years we will be able to do this kind of independent travel so we wanted to do it while we are still healthy enough to enjoy it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Scenes at Trinidad State Park

For the first time in ages, we spent a few days in Trinidad State Park, just inside the southern border of Colorado.  We hadn't been there in years.  Boy have they improved the campground since our last stay.

We hike on a trail along the ridge above the campground. This was our view of the snow-capped Rockies from the ridge.

The hike wasn't difficult but there were some hills, making us feel like we were really hiking.

We saw some interesting rock formations.


There were also some good views of Trinidad Lake from the campground.

We will definitely stay there again.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Whittington Center Campground

In three days, after our check-in at the front gate, we only spoke to 1 person in the campground at the NRA Whittington Center outside Raton, New Mexico. We know it is early in the season. Other than wind we have had great weather in the past two weeks, especially for April and early May. But this is not a time we would have gone camping before we began traveling year-round in 2009. In fact, except for one year we didn't like to go out in Colorado until after Memorial Day. This year we want to be in the Denver area before Memorial Day, so we have seen a number of uncrowded campgrounds.

This pronghorn (antelope) spent quite a bit of time in the campground yesterday.  These animals are fairly common in New Mexico, Colorado and north, but we had never seen one up this close, especially in an area often frequented by humans.  Look closely and you will see how many empty sites there were in the campground.

This is a close-up of the same pronghorn.  Not only were we able to get up close to the animal, last night as it was getting dark I was sitting in our trailer with the front door open.  I heard a sound and looked, only to discover a mule deer about 1 or 2 feet away from the door.  Amazing!

We had some great sunsets during our 3 nights at Whittington.

If you are looking for a quiet campground with full hookups and some really great sites, check out the Whittington Center, especially in early May. If you are into shooting, the center has numerous ranges for shotgun, rifle, black-powder and pistols. But if you aren't into shooting and aren't a member of the NRA, it is still a great place to stay. John is a member of NRA but we have never done any shooting there. But we enjoy camping in this place.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Scenes from Santa Fe

We have all heard of the Santa Fe Trail, a well-traveled route between Independence, MO, and Santa Fe in the mid-1800s. New Mexico had first been settled by the Spanish in the 1600s and finally became a US territory in 1850. Parts of the city of Santa Fe are very old. We love looking around the Plaza there.

Probably the oldest part of town surrounds the San Miguel Church, established in 1610.

We were there on Sunday and the Native American vendors at the Inn of the Governors had many visitors. The park in the center of the plaza had lots of visitors.

Small courtyards can be found around the square with numerous vendors.  Many of their wares are very colorful.

These driftwood angels are clever.

Two more courtyards.

In England--at least when we there years ago--these men would be called buskers.  I guess in this country they are street entertainers.

The plaza area has a new side, as well.

This fountain is in the Cathedral Park surrounding the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.

The cathedral anchors one of the streets going into the plaza.

The doorman at La Fonda Hotel on the plaza.