Thursday, August 6, 2015

Celebrating Colorado

Colorado turned 139 years old this past Saturday.
We decided to celebrate both the birthday and the State of Colorado by visiting one of her treasures:
Red Rock Canyon Open Space.

I'd never been to Red Rock Canyon Open Space before.
In fact, as a third generation Coloradan, born and raised in the City of Colorado Springs, I am ashamed to say I'd never even heard of Red Rock Canyon Open Space until a few years ago.
I grew up spending many happy days throughout my childhood exploring Garden of the Gods.
I couldn't even tell you how many times in my lifetime I have driven past the 787 acres that comprise this spectacular treasure tucked unnoticed in the canyon along side of Highway 24.
How did I miss it?
How did I not know it was there?

The short answer is that until the early 2000's it was owned for over eighty years by a private family.
It was not on public lands.
It was private and inaccessible.
The story of how the City of Colorado Springs acquired this area will not be recounted here in this post, but I have provided a link for those of you whom might be interested in reading about about it.

I wish my uncles were alive.
No doubt in their days of exploration of the Colorado Springs area during the 1920's and 1930's, I have every reason to speculate that they visited this place while looking for arrowheads and places to climb and explore.
They knew about such secret places.
They had explored them.
I doubt that rumors of a man with a gun protecting the place would have kept them out.
I just wish I could ask them about it.

This area, known as the "secret Garden of the Gods," is truly, as the article I linked for you says, 
a geological wonder.

If you have been to the Garden of the Gods, you have seen similar outcroppings of red sandstone rock as you will see in this open space.
In fact, both areas are one whole geographic ecosystem.
Only in modern times have they been viewed as separate systems.

I am not a geologist, though I wish I had studied more of this field, but the rock formations in my hometown have always fascinated me.  

Having never been to Red Rock Canyon Open Space,
Jim and I did not know what to expect when we set out for our adventure.
We tried to explore the area last summer when son Jonathan and grandson Atticus were here.
We only got a photo to commemorate the start of the hike when the rains came.

This year, we again took a few photos to commemorate the day and
hoped rain would not end our hike.
(Typical blogger activity: take photos for the blog at the start of any adventure.)

The smile is a real one.
Feeling well and energetic,
I was so excited to finally get out and do a hike with my man and my dog.
There is no better way to celebrate Colorado Day than by taking in her beauty 
with the ones you love.

Our first task was to choose a trail to explore.
We started down the path.
The day was warm, but the clouds were not threatening a storm.  
They provided a welcomed cloud cover from the sun.

I love that blue Colorado sky.
I love those red rocks.
Yes, Colorado is colorful.
Colorado means:  colored red.
Now you know how Colorado got her name.

Enjoy photos from our walk.

I believe this peaceful looking lake is not without its controversy.
It was built by the previous owners of the area to catch and store rain water.
That is against the law in the State of Colorado.
Colorado Water Laws are very strict.
Retaining pools are illegal.
Pools like these have been dry during periods of drought.
Spring rains caused them to flood and damage the surrounding trails.
On this day, the pool was beautiful and serene.
You can read about the damage and the water controversy here if you are interested.

Look, the sky is changing.
That is a part of celebrating Colorado.
Her weather is quite unpredictable.

I honestly don't know what this monument is commemorating.
I failed to record it in my notes.
I was more interested in getting a photo of the Peak (Pikes Peak).
It is the distant mountain in the center of the photo.

This past spring many of the hiking trails in Red Rock Canyon Open Space were washed out by spring rains.

This waterlogged field, covered in natural grasses,  was quite marshy and wet.

Look closer.
Can you see the dragonfly?
(It's barely visible in the center of the photo.)

Dragonflies, symbols of change
a change in perspective and self-realization,
have been showing themselves to me on several long walks Jim and I have taken this summer.
They have become an important symbol of what I have been experiencing this year.

This self realization has at its source the type of change that comes from
and from the 
of the deeper meaning of life.  

Dragonflies have become my symbol of the entry into my seventies.
I am seventy.
I am learning to embrace the changes in my life and in my perspective of life.
I am reminded how important this time of life is when I encounter unexpected sightings of the dragonfly.

They are so magical.
Their iridescence
 reminds me that it is good to end
one's self-centered illusions.
It is time to have
a clear vision of the realities of life.*

Live in the moment.
Live life to fullest in that moment.

   Few things are more healing to the mind and the soul than walking through areas where one can observe and reflect upon nature.

I recognize and acknowledge the awesome power that created this geological specimen.

Since my earliest days I have marveled at the trees that seem to grow out of rocks.
It is a reminder that while the soil may seem unfriendly,
it may appear as if nothing will grow in such circumstances,
there are examples all through nature that show us
that environment is not the only predictor of growth or of survival.
Life springs forth under the worst of circumstances.
I love the lessons of nature.

you give us much to celebrate.
I love this place, the place of my birth.
I'm so grateful to have this beauty just a few short miles from my home.

The hike ends with a reflection.

We have found a new place to explore and enjoy.
We will be back.

Jim and Boston posed for one final photo,

while I counted these two among the blessings of my day.

* Reflection on the dragonfly were recorded in my journal earlier this summer.  I don't know where I found these definitions to the meaning of the dragonfly.  No doubt they were found on some internet search.  I did not cite the reference before I wrote these line in my journal.


Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Red Rock Canyon is truly beautiful, Sally, and it sounds like you had a wonderful hike.
I am fortunate, because I live one mile from South Valley Park and it is full of red rock formations and some wonderful trails that wander through them. We are also close to a large red rock "cave" that Chief Colorow used as his winter shelter. Anthropologists have found that Native Americans used red rocks as shelters 5,000 years ago!

The Furry Gnome said...

Looks like an amazing place to explore!

Olga Hebert said...

Colorado is such a beautiful state. My father always wanted to move there, but ended up in Vermont instead.

troutbirder said...

Wonderfully evocative post. The photos are fantastic. Thanks for sharing, Sally....:)

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

What a wondrous post, Sally: filled with joy at feeling well and able to hike, with wonder at those beautiful sights and with insights into what it means to be in this stage of life. As a fellow 70-year-old, I so agree with your wisdom of living each day fully and with love.

Terri Tiffany said...

Oh wow!You got such beautiful photos! I would love to be there taking pictures. What a gorgeous day you had to go hiking. And how fun you can take your dog!!

Barb said...

Sally, I recently heard of this canyon from another blogger who lives in Colorado Springs. It looks like a wonderful place to explore. Areas of red rock are so scenic - when we go to Glenwood, we're always amazed at the beauty of the rocks. That photo of the reflective pool and giant rock formation is wonderful. Live life to its fullest Sally - enjoy the moment.

Jean said...

Bee-you-tee-ful photos of your hike. Colorado is certainly a beautiful state, and now I know the origin of its name. Oh, and I spotted the dragonfly. I've seen a lot of dragonflies here this year.

Arkansas Patti said...

I'd always heard that if you visit Colorado, you will never leave. Such a beautiful state and interesting about the meaning of Colorado.
All your pictures are great but that one with the sky, clouds and reflections is stunning.
So happy you are feeling so good and can now get out and enjoy.

Linda Reeder said...

I spent quite a bit of time in Colorado when our daughter lived there. She lived out on the plains in Fort Morgan, but we explored many Colorado sites. My most striking memories are of endless blue sky and red rocks. Have you visited the Colorado National Monument, outside of Grand Junction?

Kay said...

I just loved seeing all your gorgeous photos, Sally. Colorado is such a beautiful state. We haven't spent a whole lot of time there, but now you're making me want to go.

DJan said...

The last two reflection pictures are my favorites, but having lived in Colorado for so many years, I didn't ever visit that place, although I've been to the Garden of the Gods and enjoyed it very much, I'm sorry I didn't see this spot. Thanks for showing it to me now, though. Lovely. :-)

Rose said...

So beautiful! I must visit Colorado! Your interpretations of the dragonflies are interesting, but I always think of my best friend when I see them. Her daughter (and my goddaughter) always loved dragonflies. After she died much too young in a car accident, my friend saw more dragonflies in her garden and thought they must be signs from her. Ever since then, a dragonfly has symbolized comfort and healing for her.

Jeanie said...

If I didn't already know that Colorado was a profoundly beautiful state, your photos would convince me in a heartbeat! I have only been there one or two times. I think once -- just a long visit! And I had a little bit of opportunity to get off the beaten path now and then and discover some of your state. Its blue skies held me in awe! But from these photos I see there is so very much more to love!

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Wow, Sally, thank you for this photo tour of a very beautiful area. Last evening on the news we saw horrific views of the EPA's accidental toxic spill into a Colorado river (have forgotten which one). Sat there feeling sick as I watched. Your post is refreshing in comparison.

Barbara - said...

I agree that it's beautiful. Instead of traveling, I've pretty much committed to August and September being explore Denver and outer environs-local tourism if you will!

Rhapsody said...

wow, great photos.
Thanks for taking me on the hike with you, your man and your dog. I enjoyed myself.

Stay blessed.

Ien in the Kootenays said...

Thanks for sharing the beauty that surrounds you. I thought Colorado just meant coloured? Without the red? Anyway, I may have to add this blog to the list of blogs I want to follow, where I learn about more books I want to read that I won't get around to reading because I am spending too much time cruising the internet...

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

I love how you seized the moment to visit a local spot and it's not surprising that during earlier years local places were overlooked. It happens.